Ambitious English club Bath have confirmed the arrival of Welsh international fly-half Rhys Priestland next season.
The 27-year-old joins Bath from Scarlets, for whom he is closing in on 150 appearances.
Since making his competitive debut in Scarlets colours in September 2007 the unassuming fly half has amassed a current total of 1059 points – just six points away from breaking Stephen Jones’ regional record and becoming the highest scoring Scarlet in regional history.
Priestland, who has 32 caps for his country, burst onto the international scene in the 2011 Rugby World Cup, where he steered Wales to their first semi-final since 1987.
“My entire rugby career has been spent in Wales and, although I’ve enjoyed that time enormously, I need a new challenge,” said the 27-year-old from Carmarthen.
“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.”
Mike Ford, Head Coach of Bath Rugby, said: “Rhys is a fantastic player with an impressive pedigree: his record with Scarlets and Wales speaks for itself. He’s got a wide range of talents that suit our game plan and he’ll 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.”
Scarlets Head Coach Wayne Pivac said: “We are disappointed to see Rhys go, he’s been a big part of the region for a long period of time and is a true professional both on and off the field. We appreciate that this is a great opportunity for Rhys to further develop and progress on a personal level.
“As a region we were keen to retain Rhys’ services but were unable to do so. Despite our desire and commitment to retain all of our international players within the region there are times when it’s not the right decision for the individual player at the time.
“Rhys has developed into a skilled fly half who commands excellence at all times and his leadership qualities, experience and maturity will be missed.
“This is an exciting new challenge for Rhys; he goes with our blessing and he will always be a Scarlet. He has been a great servant and we wish him well with his future.”