Prop Max Lahiff hopes he can hold it together when Bath Rugby take on former club London Irish on Saturday. The 25-year-old left Irish in 2013 for a taste of club rugby in New Zealand and Australia, but arrived back on these shores this summer and headed to the Rec.
Despite enjoying victory on his debut against Exeter Chiefs, Bath have found the going tough in the last two weeks and lost to both Wasps and Harlequins.
On Saturday Bath have a golden opportunity to get back to winning ways when they take on Irish – without a point in three Aviva Premiership Rugby matches – at a ground where they have triumphed on seven of their last eight visits.
But Lahiff knows first-hand a trip to the Madejski Stadium will not be straight forward.
“I have not been back there since I left, it will be my first trip as a player in the opposition and I am sure it will be a bit emotional,” he said.
“They are an awesome bunch and they treated me so well, when I was there I loved every minute of it and I know for a fact that I would not be the player that I am without their help.
“From my time over in the ITM Cup, I know that Tom Coventry is a very canny operator – the guys I played with in Hawke’s Bay used to play under him and they are all big fans.
“I am sure he will have Irish on the up, they will be a very competitive side and they have already shown it against two good sides like Leicester and Saracens – it’s a battle I am looking forward to.”
Though the season has not begun well for the Exiles, a narrow defeat to Saracens last time out – a game in which they led 7-3 at half-time – has given them some reason for cheer.
Flanker Blair Cowan knows Bath will be intent on improving their form, but believes his team are not too far away from getting their first points on the board.
“They will be bitterly disappointed with their loss at the weekend and we know they will be coming hard at us,” said the 29-year-old Scotland international.
“But we’ve just got to stay with what we did well at the weekend and we’ve got to make sure our defence is on target again and then tidy up our set-piece.
“That set-piece is the one area against Saracens where we let the game slip and we’ve spoken about tidying that up against Bath.
“It’s also a home game and we want to take massive pride in making our home a fortress as every team needs to do in the Premiership.”
Madejski Stadium, 3pm
Referee: Tom Foley (9th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Wayne Falla & Nigel Carrick. TMO: Rowan Kitt.