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RUGBY: Ex-Exiles' focus is close to home, says Hooper
3:00pm Friday 27th September 2013 in Sport
JONATHAN Joseph, Matt Garvey, Anthony Watson and David Sisi welcome their old employers to the Rec this weekend but you wouldn’t know about it – according to Bath Rugby captain Stuart Hooper.
Bath went on a small raid of Aviva Premiership rivals London Irish towards the back end of last term with centre Joseph the first of four to be confirmed as heading down the M4 from Reading.
Lock Garvey and then Sisi and Watson were then all announced within the space of a month and, three games into the season, London Irish make the trip south to the Rec for Saturday’s clash.
The Exiles do so looking for their second victory of the season while Hooper is hopeful a return to the Rec will provide the inspiration to get back to winning ways after their first defeat to Saracens.
And Hooper, who is on the bench for tomorrow's game, insists the attitude of the former Irish four has been exemplary in the build up so far, the quartet buying into Bath’s ethos more than looking to get one over their old employers.
“Credit to the guys that have joined us, they have impressed me with their work ethic and kept their heads down and worked on their game to see how they can improve and get better for the team,” said Hooper.
“There is always a bit there when you are playing against your old team, you wouldn’t want it any other way, but they are leading the charge in the way that they have been preparing. They have integrated themselves really well and are fully focussed on getting the job done.
“There is always that little bit of banter but it isn’t about that. It was a hugely disappointing first half (against Saracens) and ultimately result but the guys have come in and looked at it and are ready to move on.
“Obviously it is difficult after a result like that at the weekend but we are confident in what we are doing. We are training really hard and the guy’s heads are down. We are pleased with the progress we are making.”
Centre Joseph opened his account for his new club in the 27-20 defeat of Leicester Tigers with Bath currently placed sixth in the Aviva Premiership table following the reverse away to Saracens at Allianz Park.
And, but for the first half against Sarries that saw them fall 31-3 behind before fighting back to make it 31-17 after the break, Bath captain Hooper admits he has little complaints over their start to the season.
“It is very difficult to look at it and you can’t form too much from it three games in. Historically teams that do well manage to keep their performances going throughout the year,” he added.
“But some that have a fantastic start fall away and those that don’t start well pick up. Our guys are trying to put into place the things we have talked about in analysis.”
Every match in the Aviva Premiership Rugby Season is crucial, to be there to support your team buy your ticket from premiershiprugby.com/tickets
MORE PREVIEWS OF THE BATH V LONDON IRISH CLASH, WITH PETER STRINGER AND COACH TOBY BOOTH IN TODAY'S WILTSHIRE TIMES
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