RUGBY: Grewcock has faith in Bath's young guns

Wiltshire Times: Bath academy director Danny Grewcock Bath academy director Danny Grewcock

SUCH is Danny Grewcock’s confidence in Bath’s prospects that the academy director admits he will be close to knocking down Gary Gold’s door this week ahead of the LV= Cup.

While Bath’s senior team are enduring a mixed season in the Aviva Premiership, winning four and losing four of their opening eight games, Bath United have been enjoying themselves this campaign.

Their six ‘A’ League games saw them collect four victories, while the likes of Ollie Devoto and Will Skuse have already made their first tentative steps into the first XV – the latter having started the last two Premiership games.

But Grewcock’s class of 2012/13 could be in for some more game-time in the Bath spotlight as the LV= Cup kicks off this weekend as the Rec hosts Newport Gwent Dragons before travelling to Harlequins.

Bath have a reputation to uphold in the competition, which is used up and down the country to introduce young talent to senior rugby, having lifted the trophy a record ten times, although the last success game back in 1996.

However, Grewcock believes this could all change and he would have no hesitation in throwing Bath’s young talent into the lion’s den if Gold came asking.

“The young talent we have at Bath right now is very impressive and it is specifically my role in the academy to get these guys out there and I believe they should,” said Grewcock, who was speaking at the LV=Cup launch at Royal Wotton Bassett RFC in Swindon – chosen as the venue because LV=Breakthrough Award winner 2012, Gloucester’s Jonny May, plied his trade at the club before reaching the Aviva Premiership.

“We had a great run in the ‘A’ League and some of the boys are already fringing and playing in the Premiership side but the LV will be a chance and I'm pretty optimistic the coaches will select a balance of experienced first-teamers but also guys from the bench and those outside those 23.

“All I can do is get the guys ready and give my thoughts on who I think is playing well but we have a fantastic coaching group who run the whole squad and I would have no hesitation of putting names forward.

“We have young lads coming through ready to take the place of the senior guys. Will Skuse is a tremendous athlete. Every time you put him on the field he takes his chance and puts in a great performance. He has really impressed the first team coaches.

“Stephen Donald is a tried and tested international for New Zealand and a fantastic player but behind that we have Tom Heathcote who picked up an unfortunate injury but he is back now and he will be playing at his best.

“And Ollie Devoto in the England 20s squad and already made his debut so he is very exciting but he has a long way to go till we see the best of him but he is one of many young talents as have.”

If Bath do go with a fresh-faced XV for the clash with Dragons then they could heap more misery on a side who are enduring a tough time of things, sitting second from bottom in the RaboDirect PRO12 having lost five games in a row, including two Amlin Challenge Cup fixtures.

And Dragons director of rugby Rob Beale admits a trip to the Rec isn’t exactly what the doctor had ordered.

“Historically the way we have always viewed the LV= Cup is that we have used it as a way to blood in exciting new talent but with the situation we find ourselves in that isn’t possible this season,” Beale said.

“We will be going with as strong a first XV as we have at our disposal because we need to get out of this slump and starting building confidence as quickly as possible.

“However we couldn’t have really asked for a much tougher start as travelling to the Rec is always tough as it is a difficult place to play.

“They have great players whether you look at their senior squad or dip further into their academy and we will be up against it, but we will be giving it our all in this competition with the chance of starting with a clean slate up for grabs.”

The LV= Cup kicks off on Friday, 9 November. Watch the next generation break through. For tickets and info, visit www.lv.com/rugby

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