Neal Hatley faced the media for the first time this season on Tuesday afternoon ahead of Bath Rugby's Round 11 Gallagher Premiership clash with Harlequins. Here is what the Forwards and Defence coach had to say...
On being back at Bath Rugby
“Up to this point Mark Lilley and Luke Charteris have done an absolutely outstanding job in getting what is a relatively young forward pack really up to speed. They’re getting very competitive in areas of the set piece and around the park. Where we are now, there’s a lot of room for growth, but I think we are in a decent place and we are showing signs of improving weekly.”
On the Scrum
“They can improve by massive amounts. Lewis Boyce and Beno Obano are young, and Will Stuart is 22 and this is his first real season as a starter. Christian Judge, in terms of experience, is relatively young. Josh McNally and even Elliott Stooke, who seems like he has been around forever, has still got a lot of time ahead of him and Mike Williams is the same. There’s Josh Bayliss and Miles Reid too, the list goes on. There is only really Francois Louw who is 34, so I think the potential and scope for growth is huge.”
On Beno Obano
“We are so pleased for him. Mark Lilley has done some great work with him. In my experience it is probably the most competitive area in the England set up if you look you’ve got Mako Vunipola, Joe Marler, Ellis Genge and guys like Ben Moon and Alec Hepburn have played in big test matches and if you throw Beno in there then that’s six really good looseheads. It’s a really competitive spot so for him to force his way in on the back of recent performances is fantastic.
“Alex Dombrandt is playing well at the moment. We have to stop Paul Lasike first as he gives Dombrandt a lot of ball forward on the gainline. What Alex does so well is that he is a really good footballer and picks good lines. He is on a high at the moment and if we give him freedom then he will cause damage and, apart from hitting lines hard, he is a big unit to stop. It is a great challenge for the boys and we are looking forward to it.”