Chudley: Bath Rugby have wiped the slate clean and will not underachieve anymore
The slate has been wiped clean at Bath Rugby, and a new-look side are ready to shrug off their underachievers tag – according to scrum-half Will Chudley.
The Todd Blackadder reign in the West Country is at an end, and the Stuart Hooper era has begun ahead of a new campaign of Gallagher Premiership Rugby.
Chudley, formerly of Exeter Chiefs, has only been at the club a year, but has already risen to a leadership role.
And the 31-year-old likes what he sees from the new coaching set-up, headed up by Hooper and including the recently retired Luke Charteris as they prepare for a new campaign.
After a sixth-place finish in the league last season, securing top tier European rugby on the final weekend, Chudley insists there is more to come.
“New management in the off-season have really cranked up standards,” he said.
“We aim to win the Premiership. That is our goal.” 👊
— Premiership Rugby (@premrugby) August 26, 2019
“On day one they came in and said we were a long way behind where we needed to be in order to be competitive.
“This pre-season therefore has been a pretty tough one and a pretty long one.
“Todd (Blackadder) came in and put a lot of pillars in place, 100 percent we will always be grateful for that.
“But we probably underachieved last year in a lot of ways.
“Hoops has come in and brought new enthusiasm, and from a player’s point of view it is good to hear different voices.
“And it is a clean slate for the players in terms of selection. Hoops has said the lads who will get picked are the lads who work the hardest in pre-season and stick their hand up.”
Chudley will be rivalling Chris Cook for that starting No.9 jersey after the departure of Kahn Fotuali’i in the summer.
And the former Chief insists the competition throughout the squad is lifting levels at Farleigh House.
He added: “We all want to be wearing the jersey on the weekend and I am no different.
“There is a massive buzz about the place here and it makes you even more striving to put that jersey on.
“I am just as excited as I was seven or eight years ago, I am loving my rugby. This was been one of my toughest pre-seasons physically and mentally but I feel like a kid going back to school again.
“Last year was a tough year with a lot of transition, off the field, which didn’t make it easy.
“But this year there is a lot more stability, a great coaching set up and a great DOR and I expect us to have much better results this year.
“The great thing is that Hoops is not far out of rugby. So he knows from a players’ point of view how to gauge things, what the players need in order to be successful.
“Hoops is his own man and knows exactly how he wants to do things and he has put that across very early.
“We are very much an attitude team, we want to prepare more than any other team.”
With a Rugby World Cup on the horizon and Bath missing a number of their stars in the backline as well as Francois Louw and Sam Underhill up front, Chudley will lead a fresh-faced crew in the early season.
But the man dubbed a ‘little lion’ by Blackadder last season for his influence on the group is confident about hitting the ground running.
🇿🇦 | @bathrugby‘s Francois Louw has been selected in South Africa’s official 31-man World Cup squad.
— Bath Rugby (@bathrugby) August 27, 2019
He added: “Having a fast start is very important in any season, but even more so in a World Cup year.
“It is a long old season, pre season can be long, but a good start is vital. We want to be in the top four for when the England boys come back and add a new enthusiasm to the week.
“But we understand the same 23 cannot play every week, but we need to be firing when we have got those games that come thick and fast.
“We have got a lot of lads missing, but we still have lads here that have played a lot of Premiership and international minutes.
“The coaches set the benchmark but the lads are trying to meet those expectations but lead it as well.”