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BATH RUGBY: Bath focus on building job
SCRUM coach Neal Hatley believes Bath’s squad building plans are on track and says the club is taking stories linking them with various marquee signings in their stride.
Reports naming Wales international back row Toby Faletau and young Leicester fly-half George Ford – son of Bath’s defensive guru Mike – with moves to the club have emerged in recent days and are only likely to increase as clubs step up their recruiting for forthcoming campaigns in the second half of the season.
Bath stepped up their forward planning just before Christmas with Matt Banahan, Ryan Caldwell, Nathan Catt, Carl Fearns, Lee Mears and Ben Williams signing extended deals at the club – moves which Hatley believes were just as important as casting the net around for new faces.
“The most important part was retaining the players we wanted,’’ he said.
“Now that January 1 has come and gone we can be a lot more proactive in terms of approaching players.
“What’s nice to hear is that there are players looking to join the club, agents of players have said they have a keen interest in joining the club.
“We’ve been planning for this for a while and I’m sure in good time Gary (Gold) will start to announce the ones that we have worked on.’’
On the Ford link, he added: “A club as big as Bath will be linked with all sorts of players and the George link is easy because of his dad.
“The last we had heard, George is committed to Leicester and wants to stay and fight for a place.
“We have got decent inside knowledge but at the moment the impression is that he wants to stay and fight for his place at Leicester, which is about right if you know anything about the kid.’’ Scrum-half Michael Claassens’ future at the Rec has also been a topic of discussion, the South African being linked with a switch to France.
Hatley said: “We’re in constant discussions with Mike and he’ll make a decision later on. At the moment, he’s committed to the club and working unbelievably hard. We’ll know a little more further down the line.
“He’s been very good. He’s three games away from breaking that Premiership record of consecutive starts. He’s been a big player for this club through good and bad times.’’ Brad Davis’ future as part of the Bath coaching staff remains unclear.
The Australian, who joined Bath from rugby league club Castleford in September 2006, has not been involved during Aviva Premiership games either side of Christmas, the 44-year-old having been part of a five-strong frontline coaching team alongside head coach Gary Gold, Toby Booth, Mike Ford and Hatley.
In a statement, the club said: “We would like to explain our relative silence on the issue surrounding Brad Davis’ position at Bath Rugby.
“We are not, for legal reasons, permitted to offer any comment whatsoever on the details of this situation.
“However, what we can certainly say is that Brad is indeed very popular here at Bath Rugby and extremely well respected as both a man and a coach.
“Overall, we want the best outcomes for both Brad and for the club, and hope to have everything settled as soon as possible. No further comment will be made until it is deemed appropriate to do so.”