TOP BAR - Fixtures

Cook ready for tough European opener

Bath Rugby are expecting a backlash from Leinster when they face off in the European Rugby Champions Cup this weekend but scrum-half Chris Cook insists the Aviva Premiership Rugby side will be ready.

Last weekend’s terror attacks in Paris meant that Bath’s opening clash with Toulon was postponed, so last year’s Aviva Premiership Rugby finalists will kick off their tournament against Leinster at the Rec on Saturday.
 
The Irish side went down 33-6 on home soil this weekend to Aviva Premiership Rugby side Wasps, their biggest loss in European competition in more than a decade.
 
But rather than talk of a decline at Leinster, Cook is more concerned about how strongly they will bounce back from that defeat.
 
“They will probably have had a difficult week with lots to work on,” he said.
 
“I wouldn’t say it was a shock result because we know that Wasps are a good side. But usually you would say a team like Leinster would always be favourites on home soil.
 
“We know they will come out all guns blazing. Last year’s game (when Leinster beat Bath in the quarter-finals) was disappointing but we haven’t spoken about it that much.
 
“It’s a new year and we’re looking forward.”
 
Bath had made a slow start to the season domestically with consecutive losses to Wasps and Harlequins after a narrow win to kick off the campaign against Exeter Chiefs.
 
However they got back on track when they comfortably saw off London Irish at the Madejski in their last Aviva Premiership Rugby match, and Cook feels things are starting to come together as those players who were away at the World Cup begin to settle back in.
 
“We were a bit disappointed with how we started the season but the London Irish game was a great result for us,” he added.
 
“It’s been a bit of a strange start to the season not knowing when people would be coming back but everyone is back now and we’ve had a good few weeks to get settled.
 
“I was really pleased with how the Irish game went, and getting picked to start against Toulon. Hopefully we can put on a good show at the Rec on Saturday.”
 
Cook faces plenty of competition at scrum-half this season, with Bath having brought in Fijian international Niko Matawalu, and he revealed that he was relishing the competition, with the Jonathan Evans also having joined over the off-season from Newport Gwent Dragons.
 
“Niko is a really nice guy so it’s fantastic to have him and Jonathan Evans with us at the club,” he added.“We all get on but we’re also really competitive and keen to play as much as possible.
 
“I’ve been here seven seasons now so I know the club well but it’s good to have the competition from guys coming in.”

To see all of the 2015-16 Aviva Premiership Rugby season fixtures, please click here #AvivaPrem

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