New signing Rob Webber is braced for a battle on two fronts as he vies with England team-mate Lee Mears and rising talent Ross Batty for possession of the Bath number two shirt.
England international Webber made a move to The Rec from London Wasps knowing that competition for starting spots would be fierce.
However, the Yorkshire-born hooker believes an intense contest for places is what is needed to bring out the best in both him and the team.
Webber, who was denied a place on England’s tour of South Africa by a shoulder injury, said: “It’s going to be a huge challenge with the hookers we’ve got here – there’s some great competition.
“It’s going to be tough to get my name on the team sheet here. I’m under no illusions – it’s going to be hard – but it’s a challenge I think I needed and was ready for.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for Lee. He’s done a heck of a lot. He’s a British Lion and that speaks for itself. And I thought Ross Batty had a great season last year too. It’s going to be a hard battle between us all.
“But if you want to get to the top, you need that challenge, and that’s where we want to be as a club and where I want to be as an individual.
“I haven’t come down here to make up the numbers. I want to improve as a player and do well for Bath.”
The 26-year-old broke into the national squad during this year’s RBS 6 Nations, winning three caps before tearing a muscle in the victory over France.
That injury spelt the end of his season and the end of his career at Wasps, as well as finishing off his hopes of going on the tour against the Boks.
“I would like to think I’d have been selected for the tour,” said Webber. “I was playing pretty well before my injury.
“But once it was decided the tour was a no-go and I had surgery, it gave me time to really work on the shoulder and get back fit.
“Hopefully, I should be raring to go by the start of the pre-season games.
“I’m in the physios’ and conditioners’ hands and we’re working hard on it. Unfortunately these injuries happen. I was pretty gutted not to make South Africa, which looked like an amazing trip, but these things are sent to try us.
“I can’t wait to get going, get my shoulder fixed and get among the training sessions.”