Director of Rugby Stuart Hooper joined the media this afternoon to preview Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership Round 13 fixture against Newcastle Falcons (Kingston Park, kick-off 12:30).
Despite last weekend’s loss to Premiership and European Champions, Exeter Chiefs, the first half saw Bath produce an impressive performance, one which Hooper is eager to build on this weekend.
On last week’s game against Exeter Chiefs...
It was a good start, we played some good rugby and challenged Exeter in a way that isn’t easy to do; they don’t concede many line-breaks.
If I’m honest, the frustrations run pretty high because I think we played well, and if we’d have continued to perform in that vein than I think we could have got the result.
So frustration mixed with a feeling of positivity around the developments that we made in the start of the game.
There’s a way to go. One of the things to remember is Exeter came to us as Premiership and European champions, so they’re a quality team. And we’re not at that level yet. There were elements of our game which I felt showed that we can push on and challenge them.
In the meantime we need to make sure that we’re not satisfied with playing well for 30 minutes. We need to be determined to make sure we can train and prepare at a level which allows us to do that for the full 80.
On Sam Underhill…
I thought Sam made a great contribution to the game; couple of turnovers, the customary tackling that we know from him and he carried the ball well. He ran himself to a standstill pretty much and did everything we’d asked of him.
Whenever you come back from an injury, a bit of time out of the game, the first game back is about blowing out the cobwebs. After that you tend to pick up so I’ve got no doubt that he’ll be going hard again this weekend.
Sam’s a Bath player and he’s part of the EPS squad which means if they (England) want to call him up, they can do. He’s training and going well with us.
On Bath’s away record…
We can take confidence from what we’ve done on the road recently. Those two wins were important for us in the context of the season, but also bring some confidence.
The players are looking forward to going up to Newcastle; it’s a decent trip. It’s an opportunity for us to get out there and put our game on the field and try and expand what we did in the Exeter game.
On Saturday’s opposition, Newcastle Falcons...
They’re doing really well. They don’t get beaten often and when they do, it’s not by much. They work hard for each other and Kingston Park is a tremendously hard place to go and play.
It’s an exciting challenge and one which, over the past few years, hasn’t been a great place for us. We’ve got to make sure our preparation is right so we can be the best we can be.
The last time we won there was the 2014/15 season, but prior to that we won 10 in a row. So it’s interesting we’ve not won there for six years but before that, we had a very good record.
But that’s partly around how much they’ve developed as a team. We’re probably more use to the surface now because of how we train on different and harder surfaces elsewhere but for a while, their 3G pitch was a big change. But that’s more normal now.
On Toby Faletau…
For us it’s about getting the right people on the field, doing the right job. I know for Wales he plays through the middle of the park but for us, with who we have available at the moment, he’s been doing a job on the edges.
The thing about Toby is he loves to play the game. Some people you can manage through training to allow them to do just that, because that’s how they get their benefit in fitness, excitement and enjoyment. Toby’s definitely one of those people who wants to play so we manage him through training as and when we need to, and then he performs on the weekend.