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Bath Rugby launch global hooker search to find injury cover for Rob Webber

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: September 20, 2012

Bath’s injured hooker Rob Webber

Bath’s injured hooker Rob Webber

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Bath are embarking upon a worldwide search to find injury cover for their sidelined England hooker Rob Webber.

The club has confirmed that the net is being cast far and wide in an effort to find a player ‘of the right calibre’ to temporarily fill front row man Webber’s boots.

It is a case of déjà vu for the club, which 11 months ago was forced into a similar search after their entire hooking contingent was sidelined by injury problems.

Three weeks ago, England hooker Webber, who has yet to play for Bath having moved to The Rec from Wasps over the summer, underwent his second shoulder operation in the space of half a year.

The club now estimates that Webber faces a six-month rehabilitation period.

He initially tore a muscle in his shoulder in last year’s RBS Six Nations.

Webber’s injury means Bath have two hookers in their first-team squad, Lee Mears and Ross Batty. Back-up is provided by Academy youngster Will Tanner.

The need for Bath to bolster their depth at hooker is illustrated by comparing the club’s resources in that position with old West Country rivals Gloucester.

Earlier this month, the Cherry & Whites signed Italy international Tommaso d’Apice – a fourth hooker for their first-team squad – with director of rugby Nigel Davies emphasising the importance of strength and depth in the middle of the front row.

Bath first-team coach Brad Davis admitted that his squad’s current resources at number two needed to be supplemented as soon as possible.

“In crucial positions – like nine, ten, tighthead and at hooker – you need to have cover as a club,” he said. “We are light there due to injury and it’s something we’re looking to strengthen. We are definitely looking for some cover.”

Davis added that last season’s injury crisis means the club has experience of scouting for hookers mid-season.

Last year, the club signed USA Eagles hooker Chris Biller on a short-term deal. Davis says the club is embarking on a similarly far-flung search.

“We have some experience of this situation from last year,” he said. “You can’t just grab players from other (Premiership) clubs, so you have to look globally to see what players could come in at short-notice.

“You have to get the right calibre of player to come in.”

Under salary cap regulations, clubs can spend money on temporary replacements for players diagnosed with long-term injuries, even if they have previously spent up to the cap.

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