Bath Rugby Director of Rugby Stuart Hooper spoke to the media ahead of the club’s Gallagher Premiership meeting with Leicester Tigers at the Rec on Sunday.
The Blue, Black and Whites head into the game on a high after progressing to the Challenge Cup semi-finals. Leicester also advanced to the last four of the competition.
On tight race for a top four place…
It’s a credit to the competition and the way it is set up that everyone is in it. Even if you look at it and say, ‘it’s going to be a struggle for that team to make the top four’, they can still win on any given weekend… we’ve seen that this year and last year. That makes it exciting for us.
Can I plot the route? Yeah, but it has to be one step each time. You have to go game by game and what we’re doing now is intertwining it with the latter stages of a European competition. That breeds excitement in the players and we then have to map a training program that allows us to peak at the back end of this year.
On Leicester Tigers…
I think it’s going to be a pretty exciting game for many reasons. Both teams have the ability to play in various ways. Over the past couple of weeks we’ve shown our ability to score from close range, but I think back to the try we scored at the weekend where Zach Mercer broke from the scrum and offloaded to Taulupe, that finished with a close-range try and probably gets the press for being a pick and go try but doesn’t tell the whole story.
Leicester are a side who are packed dull of international players and are building back an identity they have had over a number of years. This game remains about us but there is a big challenge coming up and some of our big fellas are looking forward to going toe-to-toe with theirs.
On Ben Spencer’s kicking…
Ben has been kicking, not only for goal but for touch, exceptionally well and really getting some decent distance on his kicks. He has always practiced, and it’s always been part of his game; it was part of our recruitment process that that was what he could do.
When you bring someone into the club you have a very deep dive into what they can do and what they can develop, and his goal-kicking was absolutely one of them.
On Jaco Coetzee’s arrival…
Jaco played in the Currie Cup final and unfortunately picked up a knee injury so he’s still in his rehab from that. Obviously since coming into the UK, he has been in a Holiday Inn at Heathrow for 10 days so he’s got a bit of work to do.
He’s in good spirits, he’s pleased to be here and he’s already starting to fit in. When we will see him, I’m not so sure but it’s going to be a while down the line yet if we do see him this year.