FORMER Sheldon School pupil Tom Dunn hopes he’s made a huge stride towards a full-time career with Bath after making his first-team debut.
The 20-year-old, who came through the club’s academy system and is currently a university scholar, came on as a second-half replacement in Saturday’s 67-11 Almin Challenge Cup thrashing of Italian side Calvisano at the Rec.
The former Chippenham and Dorset & Wilts man began his career as a prop but has been moulded into a hooker, replacing Brett Sharman for his first-team bow with Gary Gold’s outfit.
Dunn, who is studying for a degree in Sports Performance and whose family live in Studley, said: “It was very surreal to come on and play in front of 11,500 people at the Rec but it was absolutely amazing.
“I’m used to being a prop but I started being trained as a hooker about three or four weeks ago.
“Ross Batty and Rob Webber were injured and Lee Mears was suspended so they had to dip into the academy and I was the lucky one picked to be involved.
“Calvisano weren’t the best outfit but I was happy with how I did. I hit two line-outs and I really enjoyed being involved in the scrum.
“Making my debut was kind of a 12-month project for me at the start of the season but it became a four-week project and it’s been great.
“I’ve trained full-time for two weeks and it is a lot harder on the body than what I’m used to but I want to be doing that all the time.
“It’s my goal and I’ve never been tempted to go anywhere other than Bath.”
Dunn is hoping to hold on to his place for this weekend’s re-match in Italy.
Impressed Bath scrum coach Neal Hatley said: “Dunny is one of the guys who has come through with Danny (Grewcock, Bath academy director) and he’s had great enthusiasm and really thrown himself into it.
“He’s done great considering he’s not full-time yet. We talked to him about the switch to hooker and brought Simon Hardy (England throwing in coach) to have a look at him. Simon liked what he saw – Dunny is just keen to be involved, which is fantastic to see.’’
Chippenham coach Jason Forster, who had Dunn as part of his squad last season, said: “It’s great for him and his development to have a taste of professional rugby.
“It’s a proud moment for the club when something like this happens.’’