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Johann van Graan: “We need to stick to our approach”

Bath Rugby Head of Rugby Johann van Graan has detailed his side are only focusing on themselves this weekend, as they prepare for a make-or-break clash against Northampton Saints. 

The West Country outfit sit third in the table going into the final round of the season, however with the tightness of the league table they still need to beat Northampton to book their spot in the play-offs.

Speaking to the media ahead of the game, van Graan said: “We’ve gone through all the different scenarios to make sure everybody is on the same page; but then we put that into the background. We need to stick to our approach, because that has put in this position where we’ve got an opportunity to play home in a semi-final.

He added: “We’ve got to do what we need to do but the good things that those teams have done for us, we can do one or one more game to play.”

Bath’s fate is in their own hands. Any win for van Graan’s men will secure their first play-off appearance since 2021, however he said this doesn’t make preparations any easier.”

“I think it’s the exact same. We’re playing against the top side, so whatever is at stake, they’ll be tough opponents.”

Northampton come into the game off the back of a 90-0 thrashing of Gloucester, and already have a home semi-final in the bag. Talk has already begun around possible rotation from the Saints, but van Graan knows the danger Northampton’s entire squad pose to his team.

“They’ve got some very good players in their squad. Whatever team they pick, they’re a really good side so I’m not focusing on what they might or might not do I’m focusing on what we can do.”

“Composure is key”-Johann van Graan on his own emotions in crucial games

Johann van Graan-Credit: IMAGO

Johann van Graan-Credit: IMAGO

Bath were in a fairly similar position this time last year. At the back end of the season, van Graan’s team needed a win on the final day of the season to secure a Champions Cup finish.

With the final play of the game, Ollie Lawrence grabbed a try to not only finish off a thrilling 61-29 victory over Saracens, but it also booked Bath’s place in the top eight; and van Graan still feels that game shows the importance of keeping calm and composed.

“I’ll give you an example from last season. We’ve played Saracens and we had got 10 minutes to go; then the situation changed in the Bristol vs Gloucester game, we needed to score three tries in the last eight minutes. We knew we had to adapt accordingly and we did that really well last season. I think composure is key.”

He also detailed his own emotions in situations like this, where there is so much on the line for his team.

“I’d like to think I’m very composed, calm, stick to process. What my learnings and memories and records tell me is that you want to be involved in these games, so there’s pressure, but the pressure is the pressure that you put on yourself. We love this game, we want to be in these games. The next bit to it is we can only control the things that we can control. And then we plan well, and that’s something that we are good at.”