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Johann van Graan: How Bath boss changed club to reach the Premiership final

Bath players celebrate at the final whistle against Sale in the Premiership semi-final

In one of Johann van Graan’s meetings with Bath’s players after taking over at the club, he put a photo of Twickenham Stadium up during a presentation.

“I remember him saying this is a train journey and people will get on and will get off but this train is going in one direction,” Bath hooker Tom Dunn told BBC Sport.

“He put a picture of Twickenham up and said ‘this is where we’re going to go. I don’t know when we want to be there, I don’t know if it will be this year, next year or when, but it’s where we’re going to finish’.”

Bath had finished bottom of the Premiership table when the South African came in as head of rugby. Two years on, almost to the day, they are heading to Twickenham to take on Northampton Saints in the final and fight for their first league trophy since 1996.

Eighteen months into his tenure and Van Graan said “everything had changed” at Bath.

New coaching and backroom staff had been brought in, new systems implemented, new tactics and training methods and high profile players such as Finn Russell, Ollie Lawrence and Thomas du Toit have been added on the way.

But 19 of the 43 senior players at Bath this season were there during the low of the 2021-22 campaign, Dunn included.

“We had all the pieces to the puzzle available to us. We had the players, we had the facilities, we had the fanbase. We just weren’t clicking, we just weren’t putting it in the right order,” Dunn said.

“It’s amazing where hope turns into belief and I think that’s probably the thing that’s changed the quickest for us.”

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Written by Joseph

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