Bath Rugby need to bounce back this weekend – a situation that brings back familiar feelings for flanker Francois Louw.
Last year’s Aviva Premiership Rugby finalists were beaten 19-14 at struggling Newcastle Falcons on Saturday, seeing them slip down to eighth in the table.
Next up is a significant challenge, as Mike Ford’s men turn their attention to a European Rugby Champions Cup clash with reigning champions Toulon.
And it is a situation with which Louw is familiar, after he was part of the South Africa squad that slipped up against Japan in their World Cup opener this year before recovering to finish the tournament in third.
“It is very similar, really,” said the 30-year-old.
“Rugby is a unique game – it’s not all about talent. There is a lot of soul searching that needs to be done and you need to bring that attitude at the weekend.
“We haven’t quite been all there and that is what’s required to compete at the level we expect.
“It is a massive challenge for us, playing the champions away in the south of France, and an awesome challenge as well. It is generally really exciting playing in Europe. It’s an awesome tournament to be involved in.”
Bath and Toulon sit on eight points apiece after three European games, making this clash – re-arranged after it was postponed in November – a pivotal tie in Pool 5.
And Louw believes the hosts, who have won the competition for each of the last three seasons, are fallible – as Wasps showed with a crushing 32-6 victory over Toulon in Round 2.
“Wasps played a hell of a game against them and everything came together but they are definitely a beatable side,” he continued.
“In a big game like this you rely on certain individuals to step up. If you get those guys firing, you are probably going to have a good day at the office. It is going to be important that our senior players step up.”
For Louw, this is the first game since he put pen to paper for a new contract with Bath, keeping the experienced blindside at the Rec until 2019.
That followed hot off the heels of the news that flanker Schalk Burger – a Springbok teammate of his for the last five years – will join Saracens next season and Louw is already looking forward to it.
“I’m very excited,” he added. “I knew about it for a while and I think it is great for them. It’s a hell of a signing and he has hit form once again, as he showed in the World Cup.
“It’s great for Premiership Rugby to have another top international like that and hopefully we can catch up every now and again as well.”
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