Bath eager to sink Stade
Claassens determined to topple French giants
By Simon Dilger. Last Updated: 17/10/09 4:08pm
Bath skipper Michael Claassens is relishing the opportunity to cut French giants Stade Francais down to size in their Heineken Cup clash this weekend.
"Games like this are what I play rugby for...They have always been one of the top teams in Europe. Everyone wants to play against them because they are the big money spenders so it's a great opportunity for us."
Michael Claassens Quotes of the week
The European rivals will meet for the first time at the Recreation Ground on Sunday and Claassens said his men were eager to claim a major scalp.
Bath will also be looking to turn around a disappointing start to the competition after suffering a heavy 26-12 defeat to Ulster at Ravenshill in their opening game.
In contrast, Stade demolished Edinburgh 31-7 in Paris to emerge as early pacesetters in Pool Four but Claassens is hoping to make Bath's home advantage pay on Sunday.
"Games like this are what I play rugby for," enthused the South African scrum-half.
"We have got them at home and it's the ideal opportunity for us to turn things around.
"They have always been one of the top teams in Europe. Everyone wants to play against them because they are the big money spenders so it's a great opportunity for us.
"I know for a game like the one against Stade Francais everyone will turn up and they will already be psyched up for it."
Following the disappointment of Bath's defeat at Ulster the importance of an early opportunity to reverse their fortunes is not lost on Claassens.
"The nice thing is we get a chance to turn everything around this weekend," he added.
"We didn't start the way we would have liked and obviously we would have liked to have come away with a win.
"There were a few things we did wrong, but by changing them I am sure we will do better this weekend."
Bath boss Steve Meehan served as assistant coach at Stade for four years and is acutely aware what it would mean for his men to spike the European big guns on Sunday.
"A win would certainly be a confidence boost" said Meehan, who helped the French club to two Top 14 titles and a Heineken Cup final in 2005.
"Stade would be a big European scalp for us to take.
"To lose this one and to have any chance of making the top eight, we'd have to play extremely well in our following four matches and win them all with some bonus points."