Olly Barkley to leave Bath Rugby for Racing Metro
Olly Barkley will leave Bath Rugby for French club Racing Metro at the end of the month.
The 30-year-old is contracted at The Rec until the end of the season but will be available for two more games at Bath – at London Irish on Saturday and at home to Sale the following week - before joining the Paris club as a 'medical joker'.
Racing have suffered an injury crisis at fly-half and swooped for Barkley ahead of the formal declaration of players for the 2012-13 Heineken Cup.
Barkley amassed over 200 appearances in two spells with Bath and won 23 England caps.
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He said: "Bath Rugby is in my heart and it always will be. When I no longer play the game, this will be the club I come to watch.
"I will be forever a Bath boy but this, for me, was simply the opportunity of a lifetime and one I just couldn't ignore. I will miss the club always and I wish all of my mates here the very best.
"I believe they are a special group with special coaches and I hope they achieve everything they desire. I'd like to thank the club for their understanding, and also the Bath supporters who have been amazing to me in my time here."
In the absence of Stephen Donald and Tom Heathcote, Barkley did not miss a kick in Bath's opening two games of the season – wins over Worcester and Wasps – and helped himself to three penalties against Northampton at The Rec on Friday night.
Head coach Gary Gold added: "Barks is a great bloke and a top player. I could not have been more impressed with both his attitude and his incredibly professional approach since I arrived at the club.
"As a senior player, he could not have worked harder or been more welcoming to us as a group of coaches, but every now and then an offer lands on the table that a bloke just can't refuse. We are sorry to see him go, but he goes with our blessing. He will always be welcome here."
Bath have also confirmed they have signed hooker Brett Sharman on a short-term loan as injury cover for Rob Webber.