International call-ups may have weakened Bath Rugby in recent weeks but prop Henry Thomas insists that is no excuse for the Rec outfit’s current slide.
Consecutive defeats away to Saracens and at home to Northampton Saints have brought Mike Ford’s side back to the chasing pack in a race for a top-two finish.
A home semi-final is still very much in their sights, but while they currently sit second in Aviva Premiership Rugby there are only four points between them and Wasps who are currently in seventh.
The likes of George Ford, Jonathan Joseph, Anthony Watson and Dave Attwood are all on England duty until the end of March but Thomas will not allow the squad to go easy on each other.
Indeed the 23-year-old insists that if his side are to maintain their goal of finishing the season as champions then they must learn to cope and make the most of their enviable squad depth.
“We are disappointed with these last two losses, Northampton were very good and capitalised on our mistakes,” he said.
“The first half against Saints we were pretty heavily on top but they got those two tries before half time and that knocked us back a bit.
“That is where we feel we are going as a team but for one reason or another we have not done it in the last couple of weeks.
“The goal we speak about is winning the league, that’s our aim.
“Saints and Sarries have been the bench mark, those top four teams for the last few years and we want to be beating these teams both home and away, even with guys away.
“And the best chance of doing that is getting a home semi-final so the next two weeks are extremely important for us.”
While Ford, Watson and Joseph have been absent from the Bath back line, the likes of Ollie Devoto and Sam Burgess have been given the chance to shine.
And Thomas is confident that the deputies are just as strong as those they are replacing, although he concedes they possibly need to alter their style of play to accommodate the new faces.
“Any team in the world is going to miss players of the class of JJ and George Ford but we have got a good enough squad to cope with that,” he added.
“Sam (Burgess) is a world-class rugby player, Ollie (Devoto) is absolutely brilliant, we are not weakened with these guys on the field.
“We have to maybe play a little bit differently, certainly in phase play, but that will come.
“This next game against Exeter is going to be big and it’s up to us to make sure we get back to winning ways and get the points if we want to stay where we are.”
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