Mike Ford: Bath boss excited by Toulon European challenge

Mike Ford: Bath have "edge" ahead of Toulon game

Bath head coach Mike Ford says playing European Champions Cup holders Toulon does not intimidate his misfiring side.

Ford's team have endured an inconsistent season, with the weekend loss to Newcastle the latest low point.

However, he says his side can recover to reassert themselves in Europe, having also previously lost to English rivals Wasps in the group stage.

"The excitement of playing the best team in Europe in a hostile environment is why you play the game," Ford said.

"Do I believe we can win? Of course I do. I can't wait to see them play."

Ford admitted to being "upset" and "angry" after the defeat to Newcastle and says the pain of defeat has given his players an edge ahead of Sunday's re-arranged fixture.

"Toulon are a fantastic side, but that is the fixture I would want," he told BBC Points West.

"One with a bit of fear and one where we have to play well, prepare well and have to play well as an individual for us to have a chance of winning.

"If we can go to Toulon and perform well and get a win, then we can quickly change the momentum we are on."

Ford, whose side reached the Premiership final last season, added: "I'm looking forward to seeing the reaction of the players. They'll be three or four million watching on French TV and 15,000 live.

Bath's Stuart Hooper during training
Stuart Hooper has made five appearances so far this season

"It'll be great to go out and say 'Bath rugby are back'. If we win, we have to back it up. Consistency is key. It will be huge for confidence, but it does not last long - you have to back it up."

Ford also highlighted the importance of having club captain Stuart Hooper return from a back injury.

"You need as many leaders as you can get and he is the best leader I've worked with. To have him back this weekend is fantastic for the club," he said.

However, forward Dave Attwood's absence with a neck injury will be a blow to the team.

"Unfortunately, he will be out for a while and we are going to miss him," Ford said. "He's got a bulging disk which is sitting on a nerve and they need to release that.

"It's sad to lose Dave, but we've got young, big pups chomping at the bit to get some game time."