Sam Underhill is raring to go as the Gallagher Premiership’s resumption sits firmly on the horizon, with London Irish being Bath Rugby’s first opponents at the Rec on Saturday 15th August.
The England flanker is keen to get going again and has seen value added through the entire squad being able to train together in the same environment again.
He said: “Everybody is itching to get back playing competitive rugby again. It’s the thing that we are most excited about. Of course, it is nice to be back training and getting a sense of it but everyone is raring to go now.”
“Training as an entire group again is invaluable. You can have those conversations with coaches, you’re all getting the same information and being on the same page.
“We have been getting used to playing with one and other again. It is a bit different when you are in smaller groups and you’re working on smaller tasks compared to working in an entire team environment. In attack and defence, we’ve been building those relationships back up again, sharpening everything up and working as a whole unit to get on the same page."
With less than two weeks to go until the Blue, Black and White run out at the Rec against London Irish – Underhill will draw upon his past involvement of playing behind closed doors and admits the experience will be very different.
He continued: “It is all going to be unusual. It will be interesting to see what it is like, but I think it will be a good experience. Everyone is excited to get back playing.
“Obviously with it being behind closed doors without the supporters there it will be something to get used to, but I think we will adapt well and hopefully we will showcase some good rugby.
“I have played once behind closed doors before. It was against Grenoble in France with Ospreys. The match was cancelled two days on the bounce and then we played the third occasion without a crowd. It is a strange experience but all I can say is it will be different."
With a quick turnaround of games as the Premiership resumes, the 24-year-old believes that clubs will be forced to rely upon their squads in their entirety. The topflight of rugby union in England is a physically demanding league to play in with one game a week and Underhill insists the side will need to pull together to endure the games in quick succession.
Underhill added: “Teams will have to rely on their entire squad a lot more – which is probably the way it should be. Hopefully it will be a pretty even spread. We have a squad that can be relied upon and trusted to go out and perform in games.
“I imagine it will be an attritional experience. It will be tough on the lads’ bodies, but it is something that has to be done. Hopefully as a collective we work together and get the best out of it.”
“The biggest thing that we can do is get that match feeling in training because crowd wise - it’s going to be the same amount of people watching out on the training paddock as it will be in the games. The more intensity we can build in training and the closer we can get to a game feeling the better. That should stand us in good stead for the none matches moving forward.
“In terms of focus it will be the same as usual. As a team you look inwards for your messaging and communications but in terms of an atmosphere, teams will have to be more self-reliant in terms of generating that feeling amongst the squad.”