Claassens looks to lead by example
December 23, 2011
Bath scrum-half Michael Claassens says he and his team-mates must improve, and quickly, following their Heineken Cup exit on Saturday.
Bath were thrashed 51-27 by Leinster at the Aviva Stadium last weekend, and must now pick up the pieces in a difficult away encounter at Northampton this Saturday. Clashes against London Irish and Saracens then follow, leaving Claassens and other senior players to guide the Premiership's 10th-placed side out of their rut.
"As senior players we have to lift the squad, that's our responsibility," Claassens told the Telegraph. "It doesn't help if you get down to training and you, as a senior player, are down. The younger players will be looking your way and its up to you to set the tone.
"It's one of the things we spoke about first thing on Monday, we are the guys who need to keep things positive and set the standards. That has to come from us.
"We have been meeting with the coaches first thing on Monday for four or five weeks now. We need to look at the previous match and what needs improving and then look at the week ahead and what needs working on. Everything is discussed, people take responsibility which is very important and we move on."
Claassens believes Bath must now turn to their defence if they are to immediately bounce back from last weekend's heavy defeat. The club's wealthy owner, Bruce Craig, will no doubt hope the South African's optimistic attitude manifests in a more positive performance this weekend.
"Our defence has been the best in the Premiership up until Saturday, we had conceded the least tries anyway, and suddenly we were making mistakes that we hadn't made in any of the previous 13-14 games.
"People were flying up too early or the spacing was all wrong. But I don't think we made them because we were playing against Leinster. It was us not the opposition. It is like a goal-kicker having a really bad day for whatever reason.
"You can make a few mistakes like that in the Premiership and get away with but not against Leinster. They are so clinical we were really punished. That's why they are European champions, they are a very good side, the best I have played against in all my time over here."
"We are going to keep doing what we have been doing but do it better. We haven't delivered, and in particular we have been missing try scoring opportunities, but we are not going to 'go in' on ourselves.
"We are going to stick with the plan but just do it better. This is a vital, pivotal part of the season. Against Northampton obviously we need to get our set piece right first because they are very strong there and we have been working on that this week," Classens said.
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