Bath Rugby's Michael Claassens hails half-back partner Olly Barkley
Scrum-half Michael Claassens believes he and Olly Barkley are already on the same wavelength after helping Bath Rugby secure a tense victory on the opening day of the Aviva Premiership season, writes Harry Abbott.
With injuries to Stephen Donald and Tom Heathcote, Barkley was handed the starting fly-half role and scored all of Bath's points in the 24-23 success over Worcester Warriors, including a last-minute penalty to secure the win.
Claassens was quick to praise the display of his half- back partner, who landed a perfect eight from eight kicks at Sixways, and said Barkley's performance made his own role that much easier.
"We have to give all credit to Olly for staying cool and getting the ball between the posts under that pressure," said Claassens. "Most guys on the pitch knew he had seven from seven before the final kick, so were pretty confident that he would put it over.
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"Our relationship is very important because we are the link between the forwards and the backs. We need to understand each other and what he expects from me.
"Olly has played fly-half before and he has played there for England as well.
"He talks well on the field and will always tell me where he is, if he wants to kick it or if he wants to do something different.
"As a nine you focus on the ruck, so if you can hear someone talking to you, you know exactly what's going on behind you."
The weekend contest was exactly the type of clash that would have gone against Bath last season and Claassens says that is one place the club have already turned the corner under Gary Gold.
"They pushed us all the way but if you get into a lot of close situations and start winning those games then the confidence really builds," said Claassens.
"If you are in that situation again you trust yourself more and really believe that you are going to win.
"We are very happy with the four points, although I don't think anyone is happy with the way they played, so there is still a lot of room for improvement."