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Joseph hails "the Bath way"

Published 03/04/2015

Bath and England centre Jonathan Joseph, pictured, hopes to overcome Leinster in the European Rugby Champions Cup
Bath and England centre Jonathan Joseph, pictured, hopes to overcome Leinster in the European Rugby Champions Cup

England star Jonathan Joseph hopes that rugby played "the Bath way" can steer a route towards this season's European Champions Cup semi-finals on Saturday.

Bath have won rave reviews in recent months for their attacking philosophy which was showcased by a stunning demolition of four-time European champions Toulouse on French soil.

Joseph was at the heart of that 35-18 triumph, a victory that drove fresh impetus into Bath's quarter-final bid, before victory over Glasgow seven days later booked their place in the opening knockout round.

Leinster, kings of Europe three times in four years between 2009 and 2012, stand between Bath and further progression, with Joseph and three team-mates for club and country - George Ford, Anthony Watson and Dave Attwood - returning to the Aviva Stadium scene of England's RBS 6 Nations title demise against Ireland five weeks ago.

"It is very player-led (at Bath). We all have our say," Joseph said.

"We are not afraid to play from anywhere, and our style of play is excellent. It really does put a lot of defences under a lot of pressure.

"But we are sensible at the same time. We are going to make decisions, see what the (opposition) defence gives us, and if it is on to run, we will run. If not, we will put it (ball) behind and exert some pressure that way.

"It's a massive challenge. Leinster have been one of the top sides in Europe for many years now. They are a great attacking team as well, and we are going to have to be on top of our game.

"We know they have got a lot of international players to come back, and I guess we know what to expect in some areas.

"For us, we try to concentrate on ourselves quite a lot, rather than get too carried away with what we are facing.

"Obviously, we do have a little bit of detail on them, but we are more concentrated on what we are about - the Bath way - and executing that right. We feel that if we get it right on our terms, it could be a good day for us."

Joseph was among the shining lights of England's Six Nations campaign, scoring four tries in five games and playing with such panache and skill that it brought him renewed comparisons with the so-called 'prince of centres' and former Bath and England midfield maestro Jeremy Guscott.

The 23-year-old modestly plays down such an accolade, but he readily admits that being overlooked for England's three-Test New Zealand tour last summer drove him towards attaining new levels of excellence.

"I missed out on the New Zealand tour, which was gutting for me," Joseph added.

"I saw a lot of my friends go out there, which was hard to take.

"That pre-season, I made a real effort to turn things around, to do all the extra stuff that I felt I needed to do to get to where I needed to be.

"I've been linked with Guscott quite a few times. It's always nice to hear, but I don't get carried away with that stuff. I try to keep my head down and try to get myself better.

"I had a job to do (with England), and I just wanted to do it the best I could.

"As an England squad, we wanted to attack and put teams under pressure. It is getting better and better the way we are attacking and playing. We will keep building, and hopefully come the World Cup it will be even better again.

"I have enjoyed every minute of it, I have enjoyed getting better and learning off the best in the country.

"The main thing is you have got to enjoy it. Those occasions might not come around that often. We played some good, exciting rugby at times, and it was great to be a part of that."

For Joseph and company, all roads now lead to Dublin, where they will face a huge task against one of European rugby's genuine powerhouses.

Bath were crowned European champions in 1998 but they have not reached the semi-finals for nine years. On their last Dublin appointment with Leinster three years ago, they shipped 50 points.

"It's the knockout stages, so every game is huge. We will treat it as a cup final," Joseph said.

"We will be battered and bruised when we come off the pitch, but hopefully for all the right reasons."

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