Bath have opted to omit England duo Dave Attwood and Kyle Eastmond from their Amlin Challenge Cup squad, which starts this week.
Bath have opted to omit England duo Dave Attwood and Kyle Eastmond from their Amlin Challenge Cup squad.
The Premiership side left the pair out of their 38-man group that will tackle the Challenge Cup pool stages, beginning away to Bordeaux on Saturday.
Though clubs are permitted to make changes to their squads, they can only do so after the conclusion of the group stages, meaning Bath would have to qualify for the quarter-finals for either Attwood or Eastmond to feature.
Bath director of rugby Gary Gold said that the decision to leave the pair out was borne largely of a desire not to overfill their hectic playing schedules, with both entitled to added rest periods as part of England's Elite Player Squad.
“Kyle is in the EPS and we have spoken to Stuart about his preparations and where he is at. Stuart is really happy with his progress,” he told The Bath Chronicle.
“We have an agreement with England that there are certain rest periods. They have used common sense and said: 'We need the players rested but we will allow you guys to have a look at what the options are'.
“We thought with Kyle going away and playing for England and with his schedule being so heavy that what we'd probably look to do is give him a bit of a breather in the European squad at the moment.
“We can only have 38 players and there's always a gamble to that. It's a tough old regulation having 38 and ten of them have got to be front-row players. It doesn't give you a hell of a lot of room to manoeuvre, so that's the reason behind it.”
Attwood is currently nursing a rib problem, while Eastmond sustained a number of knocks during Bath's pre-season fixtures, before being kept out for several weeks with a knee injury incurred against Newcastle Falcons last month.
Coming off the back of a demanding playing timetable last season, Gold does not want the centre to succumb to fatigue and loss of form later in the year.
“We've pretty much laid out the prospective plans of most players' seasons,” said Gold.
“Kyle played the most amount of rugby for us last year. He played over 2,000 minutes.
“The Holy Grail number we'd like to get to is about 1,800, which is just about 22 to 25 games. Kyle exceeded that last season and then went to Argentina and played a couple of Tests for England.
“You have to manage the individuals and the other side of the coin is, if you don't listen to the signs and the markers that get set down, then you are going to be sitting with a guy that's out for six months.
“We only finalised the squad a couple of days ago and we just felt the guy needed a bit of a breather – people were asking about him with his injury and he's fought really hard to come back.
“We were forced into that decision by the fact we have to pick a certain amount of people and someone has to fall out. We have strategically made this decision and Kyle understands.”