Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

Banahan: We have to take chances

Matt Banahan insists there is no risk attached to Bath's dynamic attacking style that has swept them to Twickenham on the back of an astounding 79 Aviva Premiership tries this season.

Former England wing Banahan became the first player in Premiership play-off history to claim a hat-trick of touchdowns after he benefited from sublime approach work by team-mates George Ford and Jonathan Joseph as Recreation Ground visitors Leicester were crushed 47-10.

And however high the stakes might be against Saracens in next Saturday's Premiership final, Banahan claims that Bath will not be diverted from an invigorating approach that has made them this season's box-office English team.

"Saracens are a great defensive side with some great attacking backs as well, but we can't think we are playing a team of gods," Banahan said.

"It's a team of 15 blokes in front of us, and we are going to play exactly how we have done in the last 23 rounds of the Premiership. We don't want to go away from it.

"There is nothing we are doing out there that is risky.

"We are doing basic things well. Catching and passing is the game of rugby - we are just doing it at the right place and the right time. Opportunities are in front of you, and you have to take them.

"The coaches have given every player belief in what we can do.

"A lot of teams will only attack from the halfway line, but we can attack from our own five-metre line. (Full-back) Anthony Watson is probably one of the most dangerous field runners in world rugby.

"The opportunities are out there. We had three chances in the first-half, and we were clinical enough to take all three. Last year, we would probably have scraped one.

"We went out to play exactly as we have done all year, and it came off. You can win these one-off games by a point, or how we did it and you get a sense of achievement."

Banahan has not played for England since the ill-fated 2011 World Cup campaign in New Zealand, and alongside fellow Bath international wing Semesa Rokoduguni, he missed out on a place in Stuart Lancaster's 50-man World Cup training squad that will assemble next month.

But the 28-year-old will head to Twickenham for English rugby's domestic showpiece encouraged by his own outstanding form and Bath head coach Mike Ford's note of optimism.

"Stuart said he (Rokoduguni) was very close (to training squad selection), and Matt Banahan as well," Ford said.

"We have just said to them that they have to be ready and keep playing well.

"There were two games on Saturday, another game next Saturday, an England-Barbarians game too, and then a long World Cup camp. People get injured, and they just need to be ready.

"We are disappointed for them, but Stuart can only pick so many."

And there would be no better place than Twickenham for Banahan to state his case, where he is set to line up in a team that will see Bath's star rugby league recruit Sam Burgess poised for a first union grand final appearance.

Banahan added: "We have given ourselves an opportunity to do something next week that we haven't done for a long time.

"It's a very short career in which to play with a special group of guys and make memories, and now we have the chance to make the city of Bath very happy."


From Belfast Telegraph