Dead rub­bers shot at ‘mini pre-sea­son’

Bath Chronicle - - SPORT - @daniel­e­vans28 | 01225 322300 [email protected]­ Daniel Evans Head of Sport

It’s an un­usual time for Bath Rugby. Be­fore their next Premier­ship match at home to New­cas­tle Fal­cons on Fe­bru­ary 16 they have Cham­pi­ons Cup matches against Wasps and Toulouse when they can’t qual­ify for the quar­ter-fi­nals, one Premier­ship Rugby Cup derby against Glouces­ter when they’re out of the run­ning and two week­ends off ei­ther side of that. How to ap­proach such a pe­riod? Todd Black­ad­der and the coach­ing team are look­ing to make the most of the next five weeks, with the di­rec­tor of rugby de­scrib­ing them as a “mini pre-sea­son” for the Premier­ship play-off push. The games against Wasps and Toulouse in the com­ing fort­night will see plenty of ro­ta­tion, although Bath are re­stricted to pick­ing from the reg­is­tered 41-man squad for the com­pe­ti­tion. Taulupe Fale­tau is ex­pected to be back from in­jury with, Jonathan Joseph near­ing his re­turn too. “We’ve looked at it through dif­fer­ent lenses and per­spec­tives,” Black­ad­der said. “The first thing we did as a coach­ing staff was ask our­selves: ‘What do we want to grow be­tween now and the New­cas­tle game?’ “What parts of our games are we re­ally good and strong at? What do we need to fix? “We went through that and pri­ori­tised what we want to achieve, then worked back­wards from the New­cas­tle game. “We want to give guys op­por­tu­ni­ties, con­tinue to grow and be bet­ter so that a lot of the ba­sics are em­bed­ded well be­fore we have a break (Jan­uary 26-27). “The next two games are about cre­at­ing and con­firm­ing what our DNA is. Then we want to freshen up and have a re­ally good break, send the guys away from each other, then we’re go­ing to go heavy for Glouces­ter (Fe­bru­ary 2). “Glouces­ter is a re­ally good op­por­tu­nity to get back and embed the good habits and be­hav­iours. “Then we’ve got an­other week­end off, so it will be like a mini pre­sea­son, then we’re straight into New­cas­tle.” By the end of all that the di­rec­tor of rugby is hop­ing to be pre­sid­ing over a fresh, en­thu­si­as­tic, hun­gry squad. Bath may be down in eighth in the Premier­ship but they’re only five points off Har­lequins in third. “We’ve had a re­ally en­thu­si­as­tic squad the past three or four weeks,” Black­ad­der said. “That next block of games is go­ing to be mas­sive.”

Will Chud­ley box kicks un­der pres­sure from Worces­ter duo Gareth Mi­lasi­novich and Jonny Arr

PIC­TURES: Tony Mar­shall/getty Im­ages

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