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‘How good is it for the Premiership?’ Johann van Graan on the race for the playoffs

Bath Director of Rugby Johann van Graan has expressed his delight at the closeness of the Premiership, but knows his side need to win all their games to fend off the chasing pack.

Bath Director of Rugby Johann van Graan has expressed his delight at the closeness of the Premiership, but knows his side need to win all their games to fend off the chasing pack.

Whilst Bath sit in third, they are just one slip-up from falling down the table. Johann van Graan’s side are just five points off their opponents Sale Sharks in seventh, and a win for the Sharks on Sunday would allow them to climb back up the table to within touching distance of Bath.

These small margins have left van Graan wanting his side to keep ‘both eyes on the ball’: “We need to keep both eyes on the ball, because if you keep your eye if you take your eyes off the ball you’ll drop it.

He added: “What I mean by that is there’s literally eight teams that can finish in the top four, the only thing we can control is ourselves. We hope we can win all six games in this run-in, but everybody’s going to play everybody and I believe it’ll be a fascinating last weekend of Premiership.”

“If you look at where all the teams are, you might win some, you might lose some; it’s going to be the team that can keep their head and there’s going to be ups and downs for all the teams involved.”

It has been fairly rough waters for the domestic league in recent years, but this season’s playoff race has been a welcome boost for the game. Harlequins, Bath, Saracens, Exeter, Leicester and Sale all hold a 7-5 record this season, and just five points separate the sides. Bristol, currently in eighth, aren’t far off this group either. The Bears have a 6-6 record and are two points off Sale in seventh.

This parity between the sides has left van Graan praising the overall quality of the Premiership: “How good is it for the Premiership? What a competition we have this year.”

He added: “I’ve actually said to the group a few weeks ago, it’s interesting, if you look at the French League it’s incredibly tight, if you look at the URC it’s incredibly tight; and I think the positive news about rugby is teams actually want to become better and teams are challenging.

“How good is it to be part of this game.”

Johann van Graan on returning to Premiership action

Copyright: xï½INPHO/DanxSheridanx 130A1119 Credit: IMAGO

Bath were firmly in the fight for the title before the Premiership break, and this weekend’s clash with Sale gives them a chance to put some more breathing room between themselves and the teams below.

“We’re very excited to get going again,” he said on his side’s return to Premiership action. We had a really good break as a group. We’ve been away for a few weeks, did a bit of training, away for a few days and we had two friendlies against Gloucester and Leinster, and now we’re looking forward now to getting back into the Premiership again.”