Bath ‘not done yet’ in Premiership push as Johann van Graan lifts lid on philosophy and Finn Russell’s ‘no easy feat’

Adam Kyriacou
Bath head of rugby Johann van Graan claps fans.

Bath head of rugby Johann van Graan claps fans.

Bath head of rugby Johann van Graan believes his team has progressed “from hope to belief” as they stand on the verge of winning their first Premiership title.

In what will be their first English league final for nine years, Bath will face Northampton Saints at Twickenham on Saturday in what should be an epic game.

Van Graan‘s impact at the club since joining two years ago has been significant, as a host of star signings have clicked immediately to create a winning culture.

Hope to belief

“We have gone as a team from hope to belief. We’re not done yet. We have got one more week,” South African Van Graan said after Bath’s semi-final win over Sale.

“There was a vision put in place from the first day, but there was never a timeline.

“Are we surprised where we are? No. The reason for that is we said about getting better every day.

“We became consistent. When we won, we never flew too high, when we’ve lost we took out the emotion. We reviewed every single game the same.

“Sometimes you lose by a point, it doesn’t mean everything is wrong. Sometimes you win by a point, it doesn’t mean everything is right.

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“The players have become confident in the way we want to play. And, ultimately, these are the games you want to play in.”

One of those aforementioned star signings is Scotland fly-half Finn Russell, who played his part in the 31-23 victory against the Sharks at the Recreation Ground.

That performance is all the more impressive as his campaign might be over when he suffered a serious groin injury during a Champions Cup loss to Exeter in April.

However, the mercurial number 10 managed to recover in quick time and was back playing five weeks later, orchestrating Bath‘s charge to the Premiership final.

“One day we will write a book about it about what Finn went through the last few weeks,” Van Graan added.

“Our media release said it was a significant injury and it was a significant injury.

“But what he went through to get back on the pitch, that is no easy feat.

Very important

“From Finn’s side, it is not about Finn, it is about the squad, and he has made it about the squad.

“He is a very important player for us, but what we’ve done well is trust the squad.

“(Fly-half) Orlando (Bailey) came onto the pitch and did really well, and our next game after the Champions Cup game was Exeter again. He steered us through and we got a massive five points away from home.”

Bath will now look to put the icing on a positive season and Van Graan has urged his side to grab the chance with both hands at Twickenham on Saturday afternoon.

“The vision I sold to everyone on July 11, 2022 (when Van Graan took charge) is that respect our past, but we start from zero,” explained the former Munster boss.

“We are here to build our own legacy and you train for moments like this.”

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