After it was announced that Rhys Priestland will be departing Bath at the end of the season, we have looked at the clubs that should be attempting to sign him.
Yes, we’ve left the Scarlets off this list, despite the fact he has inevitably been linked with his former region, but do they really need him since Rhys Patchell, Dan Jones and Angus O’Brien are all very good fly-halves? Therefore, we look to Swansea first as to who may want to improve their stocks. Sam Davies is clearly first choice and rightfully so – although his contract expires in the summer – while Luke Price is a decent option at pivot, but they still probably need a quality and experienced playmaker.
With their increased funding and ambition, the Newport outfit should be looking at Priestland. They do not lack options, with Gavin Henson, Arwel Robson, Josh Lewis, Jacob Botica and Jason Tovey all in the squad, but the quality isn’t there, as evidenced by them re-signing Tovey mid-season, and the 32-year-old would surely improve things significantly. They have struggled in the playmaking positions, with Lewis out of form at the start of the campaign and Priestland would provide that stability, whether as a starter or off the bench.
If Priestland decides not to head back home then the Londoners would be a good fit. Paul Gustard has had issues at fly-half this season, despite their position in the table. Marcus Smith is no doubt the future but his form has not been the greatest while James Lang is a better centre than pivot. Demetri Catrakilis is another option but injuries and a lack of form when fit has prevented the South African from making an impact, leaving them short when Smith has been struggling. The Welshman would provide a good mentor for the talented youngster and be an excellent option should the 19-year-old be called up by the national team.
Stephen Myler and Theo Brophy-Clews provide a good combination of youth and experience in the fly-half position, but the former will be 35 in July and may not be up to the rigours of Premiership rugby. There were certainly signs of that towards the end of his spell at Northampton Saints and, as a result, Irish will need someone else to come in. Despite the presence of an ambitious Ealing Trailfinders in England’s second-tier, the Exiles should be back in the Premiership next season and Priestland would be an excellent addition.
France is always an option if a player wants one last big payday and, with Priestland down the pecking order at Wales, clubs in the Top 14 should take a look. Castres, who are also the defending champions, are probably the most suited with them so reliant on Benjamin Urdapilleta. They tend to struggle when the Argentine is not in the squad and the signing of Priestland would give them another experienced option at fly-half. It would also freshen things up for the French title holders, who have struggled over recent weeks after dropping down to eighth place in the league table.