STUART Hooper views Bath Rugby’s return to Anglo-Welsh Cup duty this weekend as a golden opportunity to kick-start a dual push for silverware.

Bath head Pool One thanks to two wins from two in the domestic competition so far and will take another step towards a place in the semi-finals with victory over Newcastle Falcons at the Rec tomorrow (3pm).

Hooper, the club’s performance and player development director, will take charge of the team alongside academy director Andy Rock for both the Falcons game and the away match against Ospreys on February 2 and is seeking a pair of displays which will have a positive impact on Bath’s Aviva Premiership play-off bid.

“It gives us an opportunity to put a good performance in,” Hooper told the Wiltshire Times.

“Maybe we’ll freshen things up a bit. I think there will be changes, but nothing too drastic. We want to put a string of games together and really start to dominate teams.

“Last time we played in the Anglo-Welsh competition we were able to get a bit of momentum going and it’s very much a kind of game-by-game focus.

“It’s huge. It’s an opportunity for the lads to represent the club and an opportunity for Rocky and me to take a bit more of a lead in the coaching. The big thing is respecting the jersey and putting in a performance we can be proud of and one our supporters can enjoy.”

The visitors will make the long trip south looking to protect a perfect record so far in Pool Four and will be far from a pushover.

“Newcastle are a confident side at the moment,” added Hooper. “They are through to the Challenge Cup quarter-finals, sitting sixth in the Premiership and have got some exciting players.

“They are two from two in this competition as well. They get a lot of width on the ball and really challenge you but the boys are up for it.”

Hooper was Bath’s club captain for five years and took on his current role – one he is relishing – following his retirement as a player in 2016.

“I love it,” said the 36-year-old. “It’s fantastic. It’s great to be able to have an influence on the guys and go on a journey with them.

“These are young men who are desperate to succeed and they need a bit of direction, guidance and support. That’s what we’re aiming to do.”

The Bath stalwart admitted the camp was left “really disappointed” by last weekend’s failure to qualify for the knockout stages of the European Champions Cup and hopes a review at the beginning of the week will have addressed some of the shortcomings of this season’s continental campaign.

Hooper said: “We’ve hopefully learned from that and now we’re really excited about cracking on in this competition, which we’ve started pretty well.

“It’s around the small margins. We won (against Benetton) in Italy and got the bonus point but in other games, whether we won or lost, we didn’t do that. For me, it’s called the Champions Cup for a reason – you’ve got to be good to win it and you’ve got to be getting something out of every game.

“There are a lot of technical bits we’ve worked on but overall it’s the attention to detail you need to progress in those competitions.”