RELEGATION is the elephant in the room that people don’t like to talk about, but it is always there for us at the moment.
As this has been my first season in the Aviva Premiership, it has been the first time I’ve encountered relegation and you notice a fear of failure.
This club has been in and around relegation for a few years and that provides you with a sub-conscious problem that can stifle your ambition to play.
But where we are now, we don’t have that as we have nothing to lose – people have already written us off and that should release the shackles.
I fully believe we can beat Wasps at Sixways next Friday and, if we do that, the pressure will be right on Newcastle and the gap between us would be quite small.
There’s no doubt that we struggled in terms of gelling as a side in the first few months of the season, because of the big changes in the coaching and playing staff.
Since then, we have adapted to the ideas of the coaches and the environment at home has improved greatly in terms of our mind-set, which is very hard-working.
The players have all changed compared to where we were at the start of the season and in recent weeks, apart from the Sale game, you would never have thought we are a bottom-of-the-table side who haven’t won all year.
There has definitely been an upward trend in terms of performance, but we’re still not winning games, which is an issue.
However, we have to win our next two games or that’s it for us, so as much as we have improved, we still have a way to go for a winning mind-set.
There have been glimpses of good performances lately but, for me, the Leicester game was the best we have played all season, so it was bitterly disappointing not to get that win.
All of the lads now believe we can compete against anyone but I think we still have a few issues about closing games out.
We were the better team against Quins, but once the game got to the 50 or 60-minute mark, we as a team started focussing on the outcome rather than the process.
As soon as you do that, that is when you slip up because all that matters in a game is the current moment and once you start thinking about the clock or scoreboard, it becomes a problem.
That’s where we fell down against Quins as we started to give away silly penalties and gave them field position.
The key word is concentration. Yes, we can compete against anyone now, but when it gets to the critical moments, we still have a way to go.
From a personal point of view, with this being my first season in the Premiership, it has been such a physical, intense league week in, week out, so it has been good to have a few days off.
It has provided us all with a chance to freshen up our bodies and minds and re-focus on the task in hand that lies ahead of us.