Bath Rugby's consistent Michael Claassens is on course for a league record
He would never volunteer the information himself because of his good manners but Bath Rugby scrum-half Michael Claassens has chalked up one milestone for his club and is homing in on a league record.
The scrum-half, a former club captain, made his 150th appearance for Bath when he came off the bench against Harlequins last Friday and is close to setting a record for the highest number of consecutive Premiership appearances.
Claassens has played 78 top- flight matches on the bounce – a remarkable achievement given the high rate of injuries in a league widely regarded as the most attritional in the world.
That run puts Claassens nine games behind the record of 87 set by Gloucester lock forward Alex Brown from 2000-2004.
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Claassens has not missed a league fixture since April 2009, a game which Bath won at Newcastle.
And the impressive figures don't end there. The 30-year- old's credentials as an attacking force have been continually underscored by a minimum return of four tries in each of the Premiership campaigns he has been involved in.
It is not a bad achievement for a man who arrived in Bath in 2007 with the intention of staying in England for just two years.
Proof of Claassens' skill and reliability is the fact that three successive coaches – Steve Meehan, Sir Ian McGeechan and Gary Gold – have all regarded him as a lynchpin.
Meehan brought eight-cap Springbok Claassens to Bath from the Free State Cheetahs in order to orchestrate a high-tempo brand of running rugby, while McGeechan regarded the South African's work-rate and support play as among the best in the game.
Reflecting on his 150th cap, Claassens said: "It's always nice to be at a club for that length of time and not just go from one club to another.
"I've been very privileged to be able to play for Bath for that length of time. It's actually gone quite quickly, probably because I've enjoyed it."
Apart from minor knee and hamstring problems in his first two seasons, Claassens has been injury-free throughout his time in England.
On another occasion he suffered concussion after taking a blow to his head at Kingsholm – an incident that resulted in Bath's medical staff taking Claassens off the field when he began speaking to them in his native Afrikaans.
Typically, Claassens, who is in the final season of his third two-year deal at Bath, is not getting ahead of himself when it comes to Brown's record.
"I would be lying if I said it was due to me doing extra stretches after games!" smiled the South African. "I've just been very lucky with injuries.
"I don't think about how many games I've played, I just get on with it."