Saturday, 26 March 2011

Bath Rugby V Tigers preview from The Independent

There are strong rumours at the Recreation Ground that Bruce Craig, the Bath owner, will make a serious attempt to lure the stellar All Black outside-half Dan Carter to the West Country following this autumn's World Cup – a move that would involve squaring up to the moneybags teams in the French Top 14 league, as well as convincing the rest of the Premiership that salary cap rules are not being flouted. Bath lose two of their expensive Springboks, the midfielder Butch James and the back-row forward Luke Watson, at season's end and therefore have some financial wriggle-room, but even so...

All this will be of interest to Leicester, who are with Bath in wishing the cap would go away. The champions were keen on the services of the Wallaby centre Adam Ashley-Cooper – who wouldn't be? – but were priced out of the market at an early stage. Now that Ashley-Cooper has decided to stay in Australia anyway, there is no point revisiting the issue. If they want a southern hemisphere top-ranker to bring a cutting edge to the back division, they will have to look elsewhere.

Interestingly, Bath have declined to pick the first-choice England centre Shontayne Hape in their starting line-up, even though Olly Barkley is out for the season. Sam Vesty, recruited from Leicester last spring, plays at No 12 with the promising Ben Williams outside him. Leicester, as is their wont, are not messing around. Most of their England brigade – Toby Flood, Ben Youngs, Dan Cole, Tom Croft – will begin this afternoon's game. Louis Deacon would have joined them, but for injury.

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