Stuart Hooper: Bath coach has 'absolute belief' in team after record loss

Bath director of rugby Stuart Hooper led Bath to a seventh-placed finish in the Premiership last season
Bath director of rugby Stuart Hooper led Bath to a seventh-placed finish in the Premiership last season

Bath director of rugby Stuart Hooper says he has "absolute belief" the team will turn around their form, after their record defeat by Saracens.

Bath sit at the bottom of the Premiership table having lost all four of this season's matches so far.

Their recent 71-17 defeat at home by Saracens was the most points they have ever conceded in a Premiership match.

Hooper said he has the backing of the team's owner Bruce Craig to change the team's fortunes.

"We've spoken, of course, in a very supportive manner about how we go from this point and ultimately how we make sure this is the lowest point," Hooper said.

"Because it's very easy to say it's upwards from here, but you've got to make an upwards decision and changes to allow that to be the case.

"I know that we have to turn this around and I have absolute belief that we will, but it's not driven by a pressure from above. It's driven by a desire and a want and a pressure within the group to do that."

While Bath narrowly lost against Sale and Bristol, the defeat against Saracens on 17 October saw them concede 10 tries, with 45 unanswered points scored against them in the first half alone.

They have also scored just 69 points in all four of their matches this year, the lowest tally of any team in the league.

Former club captain Hooper took over at Bath in 2019 three years after retiring from playing. The team finished in fourth place his first full season in charge, and in seventh last season.

Hooper insisted, however, that the recent heavy loss was one bad performance rather than evidence of bigger problems within the squad.

"I'm very confident that the underlying issues are not there. I'm very confident that we're a few weeks into a season where we're developing a new game model and we got it wrong on the weekend. We played badly, we executed badly and we were on the end of an awful result," he said.

"But I've got every confidence in the group, every confidence in the players and every confidence of going out this weekend and putting in a performance that allows us to get the win at Twickenham."

Watson will 'break records' to return from injury

Bath were dealt another major blow during the match against Saracens after Anthony Watson suffered an ACL rupture that will likely mean he is out for the rest of the campaign. The 27-year-old will also miss England's Autumn tests.

"He's already had a scan and he's already seen a specialist, and now there's a plan in place. But it's a long term injury," Hooper added.

"We've got people both here and abroad who are experts at dealing with that and getting the guys back. If I know one thing about Anthony it's that he'll be looking to break records with how quickly he'll can get back from it."

Bath next face last season's champions Harlequins at Twickenham Stoop on Saturday, with Quins currently second in the table.

"As a player one of the things when you've been beaten, and when you've been beaten badly, is you want to get back on the field as quickly as possible because it's an opportunity to go out and try and correct some of the things that went wrong," Hooper said.

"The lads will be desperate to get out on the field."

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