Bath Rugby's Olly Barkley: We're buying into new ideas
Olly Barkley believes Bath Rugby's squad have all bought into the ideas instilled by Gary Gold and his new coaching team.
The summer departure of former director of rugby Sir Ian McGeeghan saw a radical overhaul of the club's coaching structure, with Martin Haag also exiting The Rec.
Former South Africa assistant boss Gold was appointed as head coach after a stint with Newcastle Falcons. Mike Ford, Toby Booth and Neal Hatley also arrived, with only Brad Davis retained from the previous regime.
And Barkley says the new coaching structure has had an immediate impact on the squad's mentality.
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"There are a lot of coaches but they are all working towards a common goal," said Barkley, who shone at fly-half by scoring 21 points during Bath's final pre-season friendly win over Cardiff Blues at The Rec last Friday.
"There's a clear direction with the way they want the side to go and as players you can't ask for any more than that. They make no bones about telling you what they want.
"We are all buying into it and we all believe in what they are doing. From where we were at the end of last season to where we are now is a big improvement.
"We've got real clarity moving forward and everyone is really positive and looking forward to the season."
One of the key points emphasised by Gold and his team is the need for an effective kicking game. That onus will fall directly on the shoulders of Barkley should he, as expected, occupy the fly-half role at the start of the season.
"We know that the kicking game can be a big weapon, so we will kick on our terms and try to kick intelligently rather than use it as a way to be conservative," said Barkley.
"We need to use it as way to put teams under pressure and we have spent a lot of time to make sure it is a weapon for us, as it has been in pre- season.
"We've no intention of just going and kicking the ball away, that's not what we are about.
"I hadn't played ten for a while, so it was quite nice to get some time there against Cardiff and for the team to function well around you is a nice feeling.
"It felt a bit strange but it was nice. It's where I started playing at The Rec, so it was nice to be back out there in the number ten jersey."