Bath Rugby: Olly Barkley vows to go out with a win over Sharks
Olly Barkley will start his final game for Bath at fly-half in today’s Aviva Premiership clash with Sale Sharks at the Recreation Ground.
Barkley, who it was announced last week would be leaving to join Top 14 side Racing Metro 92, has amassed over 230 appearances in the Blue, Black and White, and scored over 2160 points in his time at the club.
Barkley intends doing everything he can to bow out as a winner.
Barkley said: “I’ve had an amazing time here and I’ve made some fantastic memories, played in some amazing teams and met some wicked people, and I leave with nothing but absolute love for this place and these people.”
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"The task for me now is really to just concentrate on the game.
“It’s a big occasion for me and for my family, but most important is getting four points.
“We need to get back on the horse after losing the last two on the bounce and have been working very hard to right the wrongs. It’s not about me leaving, it’s about the four points, and if I can say goodbye having helped the team to a win, then I’ll be happy.”
Barkley re-joins Michael Claassens in the half-backs today, with Stephen Donald switching to inside centre, partnering Dan Hipkiss in the midfield.
Tom Biggs and Kyle Eastmond line up on the wings, as Nick Abendanon starts at fullback.
In the pack, Dave Wilson is back at tighthead, with Paul James handed the loosehead shirt. Lee Mears continues at hooker.
Dave Attwood makes his first start of the season in the second row, combining with captain Stuart Hooper. Carl Fearns, Ben Skirving and Simon Taylor complete the line-up in the backrow.
Rock-bottom Sale will arrive at Bath after making unwanted club history less than a month into the new Premiership campaign.
Sale are reeling from four successive defeats – their worst start to a Premiership season – and they have collected just a solitary losing bonus point in the process.
To compound matters, they are without injured internationals Dwayne Peel and Richie Gray today.
Sale rugby director Bryan Redpath has made six changes from the side beaten at home by Premiership newcomers London Welsh last time out, including Danny Cipriani being relegated to bench duty.
It will also be Sale’s first game since they parted company with forwards coach Steve Scott last weekend.
“There are opportunities for some of the younger boys in the club,” Redpath said.
“It has been tough after last Friday’s match and what followed at the weekend.
“We are desperate to get another game under our belt because some of the parts of last week’s match were not what we expected.”
Redpath hands a start to young flanker James Doyle, while scrum-half prospect Nathan Fowles is among the replacements, with Nick Macleod and Cillian Willis forging a new half-back combination. Will Addison returns to the squad after a two-game absence.
“Last season, Sale went to Bath on the back of a disappointing home performance and won, later going on to complete a season’s double,” Redpath added. “As I’ve said, last week was unacceptable, and hopefully we can show a big improvement.”
Bath v Sale Sharks, today 2.15pm: @ Nick Abendanon; Kyle Eastmond, Dan Hipkiss, Stephen Donald, Tom Biggs; Olly Barkley, Michael Claassens; Paul James, Lee Mears, David Wilson, Stuart Hooper (capt), Dave Attwood, Carl Fearns, Ben Skirving, Simon Taylor. Replacements: Ross Batty, Nathan Catt, Anthony Perenise, Dominic Day, Will Skuse, Mark McMillan, Sam Vesty, Jack Cuthbert.