BATH head coach Gary Gold has confirmed that long-serving scrum-half Michael Claassens will leave the club at the end of the season.

The 30-year-old, capped eight times by South Africa, will move on after the conclusion of the current campaign, with big-spending French outfit Toulon widely rumoured to be his destination.

Gold said today: “Michael won’t be at the club next year.

“He’s been outstanding. Mike’s been seven years here and I still think he’s playing good enough rugby to take on a new challenge, whatever that challenge is.

“It’s no other reason than a lifestyle change. It’s probably his last professional job before he returns home and he was quite keen to get a taste of another culture.

“He goes with our blessings and our massive appreciation for what he’s done for the club. We’re sad to see him go, but he goes with our blessings.’’

Claassens, who has made just under 120 Premiership appearances for Bath since joining in 2007-08, is expected to be fit for this weekend’s Premiership trip to Northampton.

Prop Paul James has been named on Wales’ bench for their Six Nations Clash against Italy in Rome on Saturday.

Bath fly-half Tom Heathcote has been added to the Scotland squad ahead of their Six Nations clash with Ireland at Murrayfield on Sunday.