Tuesday 22 January 2019

Bath star Freddie Burns says he has been in a 'pretty dark place' since Champions Cup howler

Bath's Freddie Burns after the European Champions Cup match at the Recreation Ground, Bath. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday October 13, 2018. See PA story RUGBYU Bath. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire.
Bath's Freddie Burns after the European Champions Cup match at the Recreation Ground, Bath. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday October 13, 2018. See PA story RUGBYU Bath. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire.

Jack de Menezes

Freddie Burns has revealed that his man-of-the-match performance against Wasps on Sunday has helped bring him out of a “dark place”, following his well-documented howler for Bath earlier this season.

The 28-year-old scored 19 points for Bath as they beat Wasps 24-14 in front of a record Christmas crowd at the Ricoh Arena, with the weekend attendance of 31,626 fewer than 400 off the existing record set in May 2015.

What the stands filled to the brim in Coventry, Burns would’ve been forgiven for going into his shell given what has gone before this season. The last time all eyes were on former England fly-half Burns, he made two match-defining errors in Bath’s 22-20 Heineken Champions Cup defeat against Toulouse in October.

With a penalty kick to win the match, Burns missed from in front of the posts, before seeing redemption slip through his grasp when he broke through the line to score a try – only for a delay while celebrating allowing Toulouse full-back Maxime Medard to knock the ball free from his hands before it was grounded.

Burns described that moment as an "ultimate low", and after turning in the brilliant individual performance against Wasps, he revealed just how badly that previous incident had affected him and the pleasing aspect of this showing to get the "monkey off his back".

"You put a brave face on, front up," Burns told BBC Radio Five Live. "I remember saying to (director of rugby) Todd (Blackadder) that I would just come into training and be my confident usual self.

"But really at home and before games it’s been a pretty dark place."

The result keeps the Premiership wide open this season given that the battle for fourth and a place in the season-ending semi-finals cane also be viewed as a relegation fight. Bath’s victory not only lifted them up to sixth – level on 23 points with Leicester Tigers – but moved them to within a point of fourth-placed Wasps and Harlequins in fifth.

But beneath them, basement side Newcastle Falcons are still well within touching distance on 16 points, having suffered an agonising 20-17 defeat by Gloucester, who look to be pulling away in third along with Exeter Chiefs and Saracens.

With nine clubs separated by just eight points, the festive fixtures next weekend are more unpredictable than ever before, with the majority of clubs facing the likely decision to abandon their European campaigns in order to focus on the Premiership and top-flight safety.

For Bath, they join Wasps facing a Pool 1 exit, meaning that both will surely rotate for their remaining games against Toulouse and Leinster respectively as well as their own head-to-head. Yet as Burns points out, the sacrifice is not building the type of consistency that could well prove the difference for those team, with momentum potentially giving them a win here, a bonus point there, to pull them away from the relegation scrap.

"We’ve had a couple of bad losses and a couple of draws at home so confidence was a bit low," Burns added. "Our performances have been inconsistent and we realise we are in a position in the league where if we don’t start winning we’ll find ourselves in no man’s land or in a relegation battle.

"Hopefully now we can kick on."

Independent News Service

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