TOM Dunn says that he’s still pinching himself after being thrust into the thick of the action in Sunday’s Amlin Challenge Cup final.

The 21-year-old Bath academy hooker, from Studley, had only made five starts for the Rec outfit’s first team all season but after injuries suffered by England’s Rob Webber and Ross Batty, and with Argentinean international Eusebio Guinazu not fully recovered from a concussion suffered against Harlequins, Dunn was handed the number two shirt at Cardiff Arms Park.

The former Chippenham man’s efforts were not enough to prevent Bath being beaten to European glory, with Northampton Saints’ Steven Myler kicking 20 points as the Aviva Premiership finalists ran out 30-16 winners.

But Bath’s fourth-choice hooker held his own in Bath’s first major final for six years, catching the eye with his tackling and a big hit on Wales star George North.

“It was awesome. It was my first start this year and I’m still pinching myself that it came in a game like that,” said Dunn, who also played in Bath United’s A-League final win over Northampton Wanderers last year.

“It was a hell of an opportunity for me but I wasn’t expecting it to happen because I’m fourth-choice. If you’d told me at the start of the season that I’d be playing in that final, I wouldn’t have believed you.

“We were told the starting XV on the Monday. In training that week, I found myself putting that little bit more into my throws or working with that little bit more weight because you want to be in the best shape you possibly can.

“There were obviously some nerves but you’re playing alongside some experienced international players, so they help calm you down.

“I thought that my throws were good and that I did quite well in the scrum. But it’s all about the team really and it’s disappointing that we lost the game.

“We’ve come really close this season.”

Dunn only switched from prop to hooker last season and is expected to move up the pecking order next season, with Guinazu heading for the exit door at the Rec.

  • BATH backs Semesa Rokoduguni and Jonathan Joseph will both start for an England XV against the Barbarians at Twickenham on Sunday.

Rokoduguni, who has previously featured for England Saxons, is in line for his first senior England appearance against the Baa-Baas, with young utility player Ollie Devoto also named as a replacement.

Meanwhile, the uncapped Nathan Catt has been called up to the full England squad for their upcoming tour of New Zealand.

Prop Catt joins Bath team-mates David Wilson, Rob Webber, Dave Attwood and Kyle Eastmond in Stuart Lancaster’s travelling party.

  • LOCK Ryan Caldwell has left Bath to sign for Exeter Chiefs.

The 29-year-old, twice capped by Ireland, moved to the Rec from Ulster in 2011 and made more than 50 appearances in a Blue, Black and White shirt.