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BATH RUGBY: Welsh star Paul hoping to play
WALES international Paul James aims to add significant weight to Bath’s hopes of using their scrummage as a weapon in this season’s Aviva Premiership campaign.
The 30-year-old prop, who left the Ospreys after nine years to move across the Severn Bridge, is an experienced campaigner brought in to replace the likes of the retired Duncan Bell and David Flatman in the Recreation Ground’s front row.
Capped 38 times by his country, the Neath-born player can operate on either side of the scrum and his know-how could prove crucial as Bath look for a solid base from which to operate.
Scrum coach Neal Hatley has spoken of his desire for the set-piece to become more than just a method of restarting play for his side with the likes of James and England international front rowers Lee Mears and David Wilson likely to prove key.
James said: “I’ve been lucky where I’ve come from the Ospreys, we had Richard Hibbard and Adam Jones and also Duncan Jones and Huw Bennett.
“We always had a good front row and a pack which we were used to using as a weapon and that’s where we’ve got to get to here now.
“Training is going well and we’re happy with how we’re going forward and that will come in game time now.
“It’s not the type of thing that happens overnight. It’s going to be a lot of hard work.’’
After years at the coalfact at domestic and European level for the Welsh region, James is well aware of the challenge he confronts in the highly physical Premiership environment.
“I’ve had a taste of it from playing Heineken Cup rugby,’’ he said.
“It was one of the things that attracted me. At the end of the day, I’m a prop and that’s my job, to scrummage.
“There’s no better place to come to test yourself because there is a tough opponent every week and there is no such thing as a weak team.’’
“Obviously it was a little bit weird first of all leaving Wales after a long time. But we’ve been up here a month, me and my wife and two kids, and we’re settling in nicely.
“It wasn’t easy, but I just felt as if I wasn’t going to leave now, I’d never leave.
"I just wanted to challenge myself personally and there was no better place to come than play in the English Premiership, especially as a front row because you have got tough opponents every week.
“Bath just appealed to me, with their ambitions. It’s great for me with the new coaching staff coming in. Obviously it’s a new beginning and everybody’s off scratch.
“Once I came up here and met them, they just seemed like a very ambitious club who wanted to go back to where they’ve been in past years. From what they were saying made me want to come here even more.
“I want to be at a club where you work hard and hopefully pick up some silverware on the way.’’