Christmas is key to top-four ambition for Bath Rugby, says Michael Claassens
Michael Claassens admits that if Bath Rugby are to reach their stated ambition of becoming a top-four side again in the Aviva Premiership then this Christmas period is as big as it gets.
The Rec outfit face defending champions Harlequins, followed by runners-up Leicester Tigers and 2011 champions Saracens in three successive games before the Christmas festivities begin.
With eight games gone in the league Bath currently sit seventh in the table with four wins and four defeats, including a disappointing last-gasp 16-9 reversal to newly promoted London Welsh last time out.
This summer saw a lot of changes behind the scenes at the West Country club as former Springbok assistant Gary Gold took over at the helm with former London Irish head coach Toby Booth also joining him on the staff.
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And South African scrum-half Claassens, who made his 150th appearance for the club when he came off the bench in the LV= Cup last weekend, insists that the time for excuses is now over.
“Of course we had a lot of changes in the summer on the coaching side of things,” he said.
“Everyone had to re-learn a few things and there was a real change up but that time has passed now.
“Gary (Gold) has come in and made a real difference but everyone knows their roles now and what is expected of us.
“It is about performing now how we know that we can and starting to get the results that a side with this much quality in should be getting.
“We want to get into the top four this season, that is our goal and to test ourselves against the likes of Harlequins is massive.
“It’s the biggest match of our season so far and a chance for us to prove that we can hang with the best.
“Having played them just last week in the LV= Cup it’s a chance for us learn from the mistakes that we made at the Stoop and bring them back to the Rec.”
Against Quins last time out the boot of Ben Botica helped the home side to a 21-12 victory in the second round of the LV= Cup.
And Claassens, who came on in the second half for Chris Cook in that clash, admits that despite the defeat it was a real honour to rack up his 150th appearance.
“I feel very privileged and lucky to have played so many games for this great club,” he added.
“And this season feels like it has the potential to be a great one, everyone in the squad needs to be ready to contribute and Harlequins this weekend is going to be a massive clash, a must-win game.”
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