Premiership: The impressive starting XV Bath could field with Finn Russell next season
Bath secured a major coup by locking in the services of flyhalf Finn Russell next season as Johann van Graan continues his rebuild of the Premiership club.
The Scotland international’s arrival will further strengthen van Graan’s squad, which is rapidly improving its depth and could be a real contender in the coming seasons.
We take stock of the West Country side’s squad and look at how they could line up next season with Finn Russell pulling the strings.
15. Matt Gallagher: Like many of Bath‘s positions, van Graan has several options at fullback, with Matt Gallagher the standout. The 26-year-old followed van Graan from Munster to the Rec and has shone in his second stint in the Premiership. Gallagher has featured in all but one Premiership match this season and has five try involvements. Tom de Glanville is another promising talent who will rival Gallagher for the jersey, while Bath’s flyhalf options could fill the position too.
14. Joe Cokanasiga: Bath won’t be short on options on the wing next season, but none are quite as imposing as Cokanasiga, who, when fit, is one of the most potent wingers in the Premiership. While some players are bound to leave the Rec at the end of the season, van Graan does have versatility in his squad and talents such as Gabriel Hamer-Webb, Will Muir and Will Butt as options.
13. Ollie Lawrence: Two incredible talents are available to the Bath boss in Lawrence and Jonathan Joseph. Lawerence has hit the ground running since joining Bath from Worcester Warriors and could be one of the biggest benefactors from Russell’s playmaking ability. Joseph will give him stiff competition for the role keeping each other on top of their game and providing depth.
12. Cameron Redpath: Another position where van Graan is spoilt for choice, with Redpath competing with Piers Francis, Max Ojomoh and Max Wright for the inside centre role. Lawrence and Joseph are also more than capable of switching centres. In short, the centre stocks are brimming with quality and can withstand a few Test call-ups and injuries.
11. Ruaridh McConnochie: As mentioned earlier, van Graan is not short of wing options and when on song, McConnochie is top talent capable of finishing off any opportunity that comes his way.
10. Finn Russell: The mercurial flyhalf will want to drive Bath back to their former glories and live up to the high expectations of him. The club have been crying out for a top-quality playmaker to arrive at the Rec, and not only have they got their man, but they also have some rising stars in their squad to learn from him. Orlando Bailey caught former England head coach Eddie Jones’ eye and featured in several senior training squads, while George Worboys shot to stardom earlier this season when he steered the side to their first win of the season, scoring 12 points against Northampton Saints.
— Bath Rugby (@BathRugby) December 20, 2022
9. Ben Spencer: The former Saracen has quickly settled into life at the Rec and was named captain of the squad ahead of the 2022/23 season, and although he has had a tough run of injuries, he is bound to play a significant role in the squad in the future. Again, there are some handy options at van Graan’s disposal in Louis Schreuder, Tom Carr-Smith, Murdoch Lock, and Max Green.
8. Alfie Barbeary: One of the club’s shrewdest recruitments this season despite the back-rower still currently sidelined. Barbeary is one of the most promising talents in England, and his all-round exploits are a massive asset to any side. He could feature on the side of the scrum, at no.8 or even at hooker. His poaching ability and physicality with the ball in hand makes him a potent threat to any opposition. GJ van Velze joined the side as injury cover but could stay on past this season while there are several other quality no.8s in the squad, including Jaco Coetzee, Wesley White and Richard de Carpenter.
7. Sam Underhill: When fit, Underhill is one of the Premiership‘s best and Bath have sorely missed him this season. He could play his part in a formable all-English back row. Chris Cloete and Miles Read provide van Graan with additional cover and selection headaches.
6. Ted Hill: Another player who has quickly settled in at Bath following Worcester‘s administration. Hill is highly rated in the League, and rightly so; Bath moving swiftly to secure his services long-term. The 23-year-old is set to be a key figure in the Bath pack in the years to come and push for an England recall and could wind up captaining the club at some stage. Fergus Lee-Warner has provided cover in the back and second row and could leave the Rec by the end of the season, but if he is to stay, he adds further depth along with Tom Ellis.
5. Charlie Ewels: The uncompromising second rower is another player Bath have missed this season, and when he returns, he will undoubtedly bolster their pack. The club brought Quinn Roux in to cover Ewels, and after his performances this season, they may look to secure his services longer term. Mike Williams adds more depth to the engine room, as do Will Spencer and Josh McNally.
4. Dave Atwood: The 35-year-old lock shows no signs of slowing down, and if he does stay on at the West Country outfit, he will continue to add leadership and grunt to the pack.
3. Will Stuart: Recent reports suggest that Stuart will stay on at Bath despite links to West Country rivals Gloucester. The tighthead has made the starting role his own since arriving from Wasps but will have stiff competition if Springbok Thomas du Toit does join van Graan’s charges.
2. Tom Dunn: Another stalwart of the Blue, Black, and Whites pack, Dunn has consistently performed for Bath and now has healthy competition from Tom Doughty and Niall Annett, with Academy products pressing for more time in the senior squad.
1. Beno Obano: Another extremely talented player who has been hampered by injuries; if Obano is fit, he is likely to complete an imposing pack that could compete with some of Europe’s finest. Bath aren’t low on prop stocks but are surely better off with Obano than without him.
READ MORE: Planet Rugby Team of the Year: Rieko Ioane, Damian Penaud and Frans Malherbe make it but Ireland boast most representatives