BATH coach Toby Booth has refused to be drawn on reports linking Sale Sharks prop Henry Thomas with a move to the Rec, but admits the club will be seeking a quality performer to replace Samoan front row Anthony Perenise next season.
The club revealed today that Perenise, 31, will leave at the end of the current campaign to join Greene King IPA Championship promotion contenders Bristol.
Reports over the Christmas period linked Thomas, who attended King Edward’s School in Bath, with a move to the Rec, with Bath poised to step up their recruitment campaign for next season now official approaches can be made for players following the New Year period.
Booth conceded the news of Perenise’s departure was a blow for Bath but said of Thomas, who is seen as a candidate for England’s squad in the 2015 Rugby World Cup: “He’s a good player and we’re in a situation where we’re trying to finalise a few recruits.
“He’s a name that has been mentioned as a few others have but the quality of the squad is paramount for us.
“The reason we are where we are is because of the quality of individuals that we’ve got and depth of individuals we’ve got and it’s one of these that you have got to replace with similar quality.’’
Perenise has made nearly 70 appearances, featuring on both sides of the scrum since joining Bath in 2011 and will join former Bath chief Andy Robinson, now Bristol’s director of rugby, at the end of the campaign.
Booth added: “We, as a club, made a big effort to try and keep him here. At the stage of his career, he made a certain decision for his family and we respect that.
“He’ll be missed but the challenge for us now is to bring in the next Anthony Perenise or person that can push on and be as good, if not better.’’
Booth also shrugged off weekend reports linking full-back Nick Abendanon with a sumer switch to French Heineken Cup runners-up Clermont-Auvergne, saying: “There is no value in that, as far as we’re aware.’’
Bath can wrap up progress to the knockout stages of the Amlin Challenge Cup with victory over Newport Gwent Dragons in Wales on Saturday afternoon (2.30pm), but with the final pool match at home to Bordeaux-Begles the following Thursday, the squad is likely to be shuffled considerably over the next two weeks.
“We come off a short turnaround and then I think we go from a Saturday to a Thursday, so we need to manage our troops pretty carefully over the next two games,’’ added Booth.
“There is certainly going to be some change around the two games, but how we divide that up we haven’t really decided yet.’’
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