Priestland to join Bath

Published: Tuesday 6th January 2015 by The News Editor

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Wales international fly-half Rhys Priestland is to join Aviva Premiership club Bath from Scarlets, the Welsh region have confirmed.

In a statement, the Scarlets said the 27-year-old Priestland will leave west Wales at the end of this season.

Press Association Sport reported two days ago that Bath were set to sign the 32 times-capped star.

Priestland’s move to the Recreation Ground was also confirmed by Bath.

He becomes their second major signing for next term after Glasgow’s Fiji international scrum-half Niko Matawalu, while Bath have also been strongly linked with South Africa Test number eight Duane Vermeulen.

Priestland joined the Scarlets in 2005, graduating to the first team via their academy system. He will contest the Bath number 10 shirt with England international George Ford.

Priestland was not among the current group of Wales internationals to be offered national dual contracts – deals funded by the Welsh Rugby Union and Wales’ four professional regions from a £3.3million pot.

Six players have so far signed up – Sam Warburton, Dan Lydiate, Jake Ball, Rhodri Jones, Hallam Amos and Tyler Morgan – with more set to follow this month.

Priestland said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here at the Scarlets. There have been some great highs and some heartfelt lows.

“I have been lucky to have been involved in some fantastic fixtures, and career highlights here at the Scarlets would have to include representing the region in the Heineken Cup over the years.

“The Scarlets has been my home for a number of years, and all that I’ve known as a club as a senior professional player.

“I will certainly miss the place and will be leaving some great friends behind, but there’s a long way to go this season.”

In Bath’s statement, Priestland added: “My entire rugby career has been spent in Wales, and although I’ve enjoyed that time enormously, I need a new challenge.

“I’ve been really impressed watching Bath develop over the past couple of years into one of the most exciting teams in the country.

“It’s a world-class organisation in every sense, including the players, coaching staff and facilities.”

Bath head coach Mike Ford, meanwhile, hailed Priestland’s signing. Although the length of contract has not been revealed, it is thought he has agreed a two-year deal.

“Rhys is a fantastic player with an impressive pedigree – his record with Scarlets and Wales speaks for itself,” Ford said.

“He’s got a wide range of talents that suit our game-plan, and he will make a great addition to our squad.

“He’s still quite a young guy, but one with a lot of experience that will be really valuable, especially in the development of our younger players.”

Published: Tuesday 6th January 2015 by The News Editor

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