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Toby Booth: Bath Rugby contract extensions to be revealed

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: February 07, 2013

  • Michael Claassens should be fit to face Worcester

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Bath supporters can expect to have a clearer picture of what the club’s 2013-14 squad will look like within the next few weeks.

Head coach Gary Gold has so far been tight-lipped over any prospective arrivals and only six contract extensions for their current stars have been announced.

However, Bath are close to capturing new signings according to first-team coach Toby Booth, while more contract renewals are also nearing agreement.

Lock Dave Attwood is expected to be one player prolonging his stay at The Rec, with the current contracts of Michael Claassens, Dan Hipkiss, Simon Taylor, Jack Cuthbert, Ben Skirving, Mark McMillan, Sam Vesty, Guy Mercer and Josh Ovens also expiring this summer.

Worcester flanker Matt Kvesic will not be signing a deal with Bath, however, with the one-time target agreeing to join Gloucester next season.

“We’ve been busy and there are a few things to come out, internally and externally, but it’s about choosing when the right time is for that to happen,” said Booth.

“Tim Buttermore heads up recruitment and I know there are a few contract renewals to be announced in the next week or so.

“We are obviously looking at the short-term, but we have got one eye on the long-term and trying to re-establish some consistency, not just in one season, but across a few.

“If we look at Quins as quite a good model, they’ve built from a young academy base with a sprinkling of world- class players.

“Having a young group of players together for a long period of time is very important, so our recruitment will be centred around the long-term consistency of Bath. We’re looking at the three-to-five-year window.”

Bath have enjoyed a successful four weeks of cup activity, capped by victory at West Country rivals Gloucester last weekend to book a place in the LV= Cup semi-finals at Aviva Premiership champions Harlequins on Saturday, March 9.

With the focus now shifting back to league action with the visit of Worcester on Saturday, Booth wants Bath to capitalise on their good form to put themselves in contention for a Premiership play-off place.

“The semi-finals were the goal – that’s exactly what we wanted and we are delighted to still be in the competition,” said Booth.

“A lot of teams that you’d expect to potentially be there aren’t and we are, so that’s a good advert for us and how we’ve approached the competition. It has handed us a tricky tie, but that is cup rugby.

“It’s now the critical point. Everyone talks about how competitive the Premiership is but, if you can build momentum through February and March, you’ll find yourself in the shout at the end.

“This is the bit where you jockey for position. Being in quarter-finals and semi-finals shows we are moving forward and being competitive, but the league is the greatest example of consistency. If you perform each week and pick up results then you know you are an extremely good side.”

Bath were lucky to return from Sixways with a win on the opening day of the season and Booth knows Worcester will be looking for revenge.

“Everyone will look and say they should have won the game and they’ve gone exceptionally well in the first part of the Premiership,” said Booth.

“They’ve picked up some good results and have got a lot of experience in positions that make a big difference.

“We know we are going to have to be very, very good in trying to negate their influence on the game.”

Scrum-half Michael Claassens has been out with a hand injury during the previous month, but it is not expected to hamper his record bid for consecutive Premiership starts.

“I think Michael should be available and with him and Peter Stringer we’re pretty strong there now,” Booth said.

“Simon Taylor and Mark McMillan are definitely out, but we are buoyed by people coming back from international duty.”

London Irish centre Guy Armitage has committed himself to the Aviva Premiership club for another two seasons.

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