Bath Rugby close to completing recruitment drive, says coach Mike Ford
First-team coach Mike Ford has indicated Bath Rugby are close to strengthening their squad after Ben Skirving’s departure to Bristol was announced this week.
The 29-year-old has made 98 appearances for the club since arriving from Saracens in 2009 but will move to the Championship outfit in the summer.
Fellow back-rower Simon Taylor has been a long-term injury absentee for Bath and head coach Gary Gold added South African Nick Koster to his loose forward contingent in late 2012, while the club were also linked with Wales international Toby Faletau earlier this year.
Australian Leroy Houston has already been recruited for next season and Ford suggested there could be further additions to that department before the summer.
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“We are always looking for players that could improve us but I think we are pretty close to completing our recruitment for next year,” said Ford, who also praised Skirving’s contribution to the club.
“With Leroy signing, what we’ve got now and what else we hopefully have coming in, I think we’re pretty happy with where we are in the back-row.
“When I worked with Saracens Ben was there as well, so I know how good a player he is.
“He is just the complete professional and the best thing about him is that you get exactly what you see from him.
“He works hard, gives his all and has been a really important player for the club in the last couple of years.
“He’ll get his 100th appearance before the end of the season, which will be great for him.
“We can’t think him enough and are sad to see him go but that is sport – players move on.”
Skirving, who was capped once by England against South Africa in 2007, said it was with a heavy heart that he decided to move across the West Country. He said: “I’m sad to leave Bath, but am very much looking forward to my new challenge with Bristol.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my four years here, and have worked and played with a great bunch of players and coaches.
“My thanks go to all of them, and to all the Bath supporters, who have made playing for the club such a good time for me.”
Head coach Gold led the tributes to the departing star and said his absence would be sorely missed both at The Rec and the club’s Farleigh House training base.
“Ben’s contribution to the club cannot be underestimated – both in his on-field performances and his character and work ethic off it,” said Gold.
“I’m sure he’ll have a similar level of impact and success at his new club.
“We will miss his experience and reliability, but wish him all the very best at Bristol.”