Centre Jonathan Joseph was pleased as Bath Rugby restarted the Gallagher Premiership with a 34-17 win over London Irish at the Rec in Round 14.
Having been with Bath Rugby for seven years, Joseph has established himself within the Premiership and is now looking for the squad to push on, and defy expectations in the remaining eight rounds.
He said: “I have been at Bath Rugby for a while now, and we have always spoken as a team about building and growing - but there is definitely an added edge this season.
“I know we haven’t got it right all of the time and I know at home we haven’t scored as many times as we should have when we’ve had the opportunities to, but I feel now like we have the coaches and squad in place to move in the right direction, and be the team that we know we can be.
“It is a privilege to be a part of this team and the direction that we are headed in."
"I do believe that we will be contenders very soon, it’s just a case of getting everyone in the group to buy into what our standards are and what we expect from each other, and then put that into an 80-minute performance at the weekend.”
With the Rec’s pitch renovation complete, Joseph and the rest of the Blue, Black and White squad gave it a first major outing at the weekend during the match, and after the hit out the inside centre was in awe of the new surface.
“The pitch is in great condition and has been done really nicely – we tested it out last week in a training match and it was good to try it out."
"The winter months take their toll on the Rec and it has been difficult at times to play on, but we need to gain some momentum early doors against London Irish and win the gain line battle.
“Off the back of that we are able to exploit the space on the pitch and get the back three players involved more, and that in itself will open up the game and we can create more chances.
“We arguably have the best back three in the Gallagher Premiership, so it’s about how we work as a side to get them the ball and open up the chances."
"To get them into space, that’s obviously a team effort and we need the forwards to be playing on the front foot, we need our half-backs to put us in the right areas of the field and then we have decisions to make off the back of that.”
The 29-year-old made 61 appearances in four years at Irish and progressed through their academy before joining Bath Rugby in 2013. The England centre reminisced upon his time at London Irish, having recorded another win against his old side.
“I have a lot of fond memories at the Club, from getting scouted by London Irish and being in their academy set up. There were a lot of good players coming through their system at the time,” said Joseph.
“They still have a fantastic Academy set up. Neal Hatley was actually the Academy coach at the time, which was great as we both progressed through our careers. It's funny that we've both ended up at Bath Rugby together again.
"I thoroughly enjoyed my time there and they are a side that has helped to mould me into the player that I am today. They gave me the initial platform and opportunity to perform.
“Every time I go back to the Madejski Stadium, it brings back fond memories, like earlier this season in December. Obviously, I want to win against them every time we play against them now, but it really reminds me of where I have been in the past and where I started out.”