Bath Rugby’s Director of Rugby Todd Blackadder believes that the Club are in a strong position ahead of the 2018/19 season.
The Blue, Black and White have bolstered its ranks with the likes of Will Chudley, Joe Cokanasiga, Jamie Roberts and Jackson Willison arriving at the Club over the summer. With the likes of Semesa Rokoduguni, Nathan Catt and Sam Underhill returning to fitness in time for the new campaign, Blackadder is full of confidence ahead of the season opener against Bristol Bears on Friday 31st August.
“It’s been good - it’s been so different compared to last season, we’ve got training numbers which means competition for places. It’s meant that we can train competitively, 15 on 15, so I have no complaints whatsoever.”
On the new arrivals, the former All Black added: “They don’t feel new anymore - they’ve fitted in really well. I think it’s a testament to the squad that they have been welcomed in. The character of the squad feels very different and we’ve done things very differently. The guys are working really hard for each other and there’s a really good culture that's been created around the Club.”
Bath will open the season against Richard Cockerill’s Edinburgh tomorrow evening, before welcoming Scarlets to the Rec next Friday. Blackadder is relishing the prospect of getting back on the pitch and putting new methods into practice before the Gallagher Premiership gets underway.
“We’re really looking forward to Friday and the next couple of weeks where we can use our hard work from training and test it with live games.
"Edinburgh will be a good opening fixture as we will have to turn up mentally, in order to get a some game time under our belts before we face Bristol in the (Gallagher) Premiership in a couple of weeks. We’re building now which is the most exciting part. Edinburgh are a good side and with Richard Cockerill coaching them, so they will be really well drilled.”
With the return of the Gallagher Premiership just over two weeks away, Bath with start with back-to-back derbies against Bristol and Gloucester. Now in his third season with the Club, Blackadder is all too aware of the importance of these fixtures, not only to the team but the supporters too.
“There never is anything bigger than a West Country derby. It’s nearly a full house at Ashton Gate and everything we are doing in pre-season is getting ready for that first game.
“I know Pat (Lam) really well so I know he will be preparing his team to beat us. It’s a massive game for them first off at home.
“They will be Premiership ready and their squad looks good. They have recruited all around, and I think they are probably aiming to be in the top six of the (Gallagher) Premiership.
“Everything we are doing every day is making sure our application is consistent, and we will still be put under pressure and face a few tests before we crack it. Everyone goes into pre-season feeling really good but we need to make sure when we face Bristol we are really ready. It’s a great start to the season, and not too far for the Bath supporters. It’s our job as the team to put the performances in and make our supporters really proud and we have a fresh opportunity to do that.”
Friday 17th August - Edinburgh v Bath Rugby - click here
Friday 24th August - Bath Rugby v Scarlets - click here
Friday 31st August - Bristol Bears v Bath Rugby - click here
Saturday 8th September - Bath Rugby v Gloucester Rugby - click here