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Stringer favours relaxed approach

Published 27/05/2015

Scrum-half Peter Stringer is set to make his farewell Bath appearance in the Aviva Premiership final
Scrum-half Peter Stringer is set to make his farewell Bath appearance in the Aviva Premiership final

Former Ireland scrum-half and double European Cup winner Peter Stringer believes Bath must adopt a business as usual approach when they contest the Aviva Premiership final against Saracens on Saturday.

While Saracens have been frequent Twickenham visitors in recent seasons on domestic and European stages, Bath last played there 11 years ago.

In Stringer, though, the west country club possess a player who represented Munster at four European Cup finals and Ireland in two World Cups during a 98-cap Test career, and that vast experience could prove important to Bath's title bid.

"It is about playing as you have trained all year - nothing changes," said 37-year-old Stringer, who is set for his Bath farewell this weekend before joining Sale Sharks next season.

"It's a final. You don't want to play within yourself and I have learnt that over the years, having played in big finals.

"At the start of my career I played in teams when we probably played within ourselves and the big occasions got the guys at certain times.

"I think it is about being relaxed this week. It's no different and there is no added pressure from the coaches. We are still going out and enjoying our training, nice and relaxed, and trying to carry that forward to Saturday.

"I play to win and to win trophies. I came here to a very ambitious club and the progress we have made in the last couple of seasons has been incredible.

"Ultimately, to walk away from a club that is on the up with a trophy would certainly be one of the highlights of my career.

"Being part of such a great environment here, I've enjoyed the last two and a half years, but you want to win things and we have a great opportunity."

The affection Bath supporters hold for Stringer surfaced memorably last Saturday when he left the field to a prolonged standing ovation after scoring a try as play-off opponents Leicester were crushed 47-10.

While Bath boast much of the most exciting back division talent currently in English rugby - the likes of internationals George Ford, Jonathan Joseph and Anthony Watson - Stringer's vast experience has helped mould them into the Premiership's box office team this term.

"When you look at it and the whole build-up to the (Leicester) game, it was pretty emotional from my point of view," Stringer said.

"From when I first arrived, the support that I have got has been incredible. It was nice to finish off at the Rec with a team performance and a great victory.

"It is the kind of thing you probably dream of getting, a farewell and being able to thank the people that have been there for you week in, week out. It topped off a great day."

Saturday's final has been billed as a classic clash of styles between Bath's adventurous attacking approach and a fierce Saracens defence.

Stringer had a brief loan spell at Saracens during the 2011/12 season, making 11 appearances, and he said: "I think they are very much the same (as then) and it has worked for them.

"Ultimately, it's very much as you see - a kick, pressure game. They force the opposition to make mistakes in their own half.

"They frustrate you with the game-plan and maybe you don't have the ball for a while and you feel the onus is on you to play in your own half, and that is where they get you.

"It's understanding that and being able to counteract that with our game. It's about being smart and reading the situation on the pitch.

"We can do all the work during the week and play as we think we should play, but it's about being able to adapt on the run and on the move when it comes to a final scenario.

"It's about being really clever and I think we have shown that in the last number of weeks with the victories we have had."

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