Jonathan Joseph is targeting the first club prize of his career as Bath prepare for their European Challenge Cup semi-final with the Bath centre desperate to move on after the shock of being axed by England in January
- Jonathan Joseph had been a mainstay of Eddie Jones’s England regime for years
- He was discarded from the national squad in January, ahead of the Six Nations
- Joseph is searching for the first club prize of his career as a means of moving on
Jonathan Joseph is on the hunt for the first club prize of his career as a means of moving on from his abrupt England demotion at the start of this year.
The 29-year-old Bath centre had been a mainstay of Eddie Jones’s regime for years but was discarded from the national squad in January, ahead of the Six Nations.
Evidently stung by the setback, Joseph breached COVID protocols by meeting players from another household, which earned him a two-game ban and a club fine.
Bath centre Jonathan Joseph is going in search of the first club prize of his career
Ahead of Bath’s European Challenge Cup semi-final showdown with Montpellier at The Rec on Saturday, Joseph was asked about being jettisoned and he said: ‘Initially it was hard. It was the first time I had been properly dropped.
‘The first week was tough. It is quite hard to take, but you get back on the horse. I’m still playing the game I’ve loved since I was a kid, I’m at a great club with huge potential so life could be a lot worse.’
Having won 54 Test caps, Joseph has come to terms with being out of favour at international level and the possibility that his time may have passed.
‘Eddie’s the boss and his opinion obviously is that I’m not good enough at the minute,’ he said.
The 29-year-old had been a mainstay of Eddie Jones’s regime for years but was axed in January
‘All I can do is worry about my form at Bath. That’s all my focus is right now. I’m a realist and there’s not many players that drop out of that squad who get back in – so I’m not waiting for a phone call.
‘I’m at Bath, loving it here and trying to put in my best performances and trying to make this team a great team. Everything’s going into Bath.’
Bath last won a trophy – the Challenge Cup – back in 2008, years before Joseph’s arrival from London Irish. So he is driven by a desire to add this European title to the medals he has earned with England.
‘It would be very nice to do it,’ he said. ‘It’s the only thing left really. It would mean everything, being at Bath now for eight years. This club means a lot to me, I have great friends here and many are leaving. To win something with them and to mark the occasion would really be something special.
Warren Gatland will name his Lions squad soon but selection may be beyond Joseph’s grasp
‘You can go your whole career without winning anything and it’s not until you’re 30 that you realise how big a chance you had.
‘I remember the 2015 Premiership Final when Kyle Eastmond said it was our best chance to win silverware. ‘This is it’. Me and Anthony (Watson) were like, “No, surely not, we have next year, the year after…”.
‘But those years come and go so you have to give everything. You can’t think about next year as you never know what might happen.’ Lions tour selection may be beyond Joseph’s grasp, but it will provide an intriguing sub-plot for some of the home players on duty on Saturday night.
Bath’s Wales back-rower Taulupe Faletau is a certainty for inclusion in the 36-man squad, but others will look to take this last opportunity to make a good impression in front of head coach Warren Gatland, Gregor Townsend and Steve Tandy, who will all be in attendance at The Rec.
Places are still believed to be up for grabs in certain areas, including the back row and back three, so that will focus the minds of England flanker Sam Underhill and Watson – who is lining up at full-back but is equally at home on the wing.
Both men know that a convincing performance in this clash with heavyweight French opposition could earn them a call-up for South Africa.