The Wednesday situation [with the Sale cancellation] changed things a little bit, but we had very inner-focused training days on Monday and Tuesday – it feels like it’s been a good week and we’re Watch live ready for some big games.I wouldn’t use [not knowing our opponents until Wednesday] as an excuse.
The reality is that we did the lion’s share of our prep on Bath. We had backed ourselves for this eventuality and that’s what happened. Training more than anything is the most important thing. When we train here at Sandy Park in high intensity – that’s our best chance of replicating that intensity.
Some of the media reports say that Bath have nothing to lose. Can that be dangerous? It can, but we tend to have our better results when there’s an expectation on us to do well. When we go into games just hoping that we might win, we have tended to under-perform a little bit.
Stuart Hooper speaks pre-match
The important thing is that we’ve earnt the right to be here.We’re coming here today determined to put in a performance that allows us to win the game and go to Twickenham in two weeks time.We learnt bits last week that were led by a lot of the guys who have been in this position before. The guys who played with us back in 2014-15 (in the lost Premiership final) have been involved, too. It was a long time ago but they have experienced it. The young guys have spoken well about it, too.
How has it differed preparing for this as coach rather than captain?
It’s definitely different to me. I’m quite glad I’m not playing with how physical the two teams are out there. It’s nice to have the perspective that this means so much to so many people.Identity is often banded around with sports teams. We can say our identity is whatever we like, but until people associate that with you it’s not really the case. Sometimes you fall into the trap of thinking you have to stop Exeter. But we have to play in the right areas and take our opportunities because, when they get to within five metres, stopping them is tough. So you can’t base your game around that.We have tried to understand that middle third of the field and [we need to] stay as error-free as possible in there.