Thursday 19 April 2018

Ford: Aviva holds no fear for Bath players after England visit

Bath coach Mike Ford
Bath coach Mike Ford
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Bath coach Mike Ford has been around the block long enough to know that Leinster are likely to try and implement a similar type of game-plan to the one Ireland used to beat England in the Six Nations a month ago.

The former England defence coach may feel that he has an idea of Matt O'Connor's mindset but he is prepared to go to the Aviva Stadium tomorrow and play his own way.

"I have seen some comments from Matt O'Connor about the blueprint to beat Bath is what Ireland did to England," Ford said.

"They are going to look to bottle up our scrum-half and get to George (Ford). Whether they will go as aerial as Ireland did, I don't think they will.

"The Leinster way is to come up with a new play, specifically for our defence, so it will be a good test for our principles defensively.


"We want to play the Bath way, which is a load of things, but unless we get our fundamentals in place, we are not going to win."

The bullish approach from Ford is admirable but whether or not his side will be able to get on the front foot remains to be seen.

Like Leinster, Bath will welcome back their international players and Ford is adamant that those who lost to Ireland in Dublin recently, have learned from the experience.

"George (Ford), Anthony (Watson), JJ (Jonathan Joseph) and Dave (Attwood), they have just been to the Aviva and they are telling us what it is going to be like," he insisted.

"The learning and the experience of that is valuable for us in our team-talks and in terms of the way we want to play the game.

"In the long run, these players come back better experienced, and the fact they have done what they've done with England this season, they are going to play with courage.

"They are not going to have any fears of going back to the Aviva," Ford confidently added.

Bath have put a run of four straight defeats behind them with two wins on the bounce, but Ford knows that the scale of the task that lies ahead is different to anything they have faced in recent weeks.


"With all due respect to the Premiership, when you get into the quarter-final of the Champions Cup against a brilliant team like Leinster - and potentially in front of a full house - you don't need much motivation," he said.

"It was a good achievement to qualify (for the quarter-final), and when you come to weekends like this it makes it all worthwhile.

"We have gone out and done some pretty good things this season in Europe.

"I think two years ago we had a problem with the away games, but we have firmly put the away mentality to bed, we just go out and try to perform the best we can."

The noise coming out of the Bath camp is all positive and why wouldn't they be?

Leinster learned the importance of making home advantage count when losing in Toulon last year and after being handed a favourable draw, there cannot be any excuses this time around.

Irish Independent

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