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Thursday Jul 20, 2023

Bath to be 'class' thanks to new signing says top pundit

Bath have undoubtedly had a rough few seasons, particularly when you consider their lofty expectations and impressive history. Fans of the west-country side have not been rewarded with a top-four finish since the 2014/15 season when their impressive form saw them go almost unbeaten at home for the whole season.

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Nowadays the home faithful are more likely to be rewarded by a successful fight to make the Challenge Cup – as this year has proved fruitful. The return of Bath to their former glory appears more plausible than it did at the end of last season, however, as their young academy players that have risen through the ranks are starting to come to fruition.

Not only do they have the growth of their homegrown players to call upon, but Bath have made their intentions extremely clear with the marquee signing, that is, Finn Russell. “Bath are top-four contenders in my eyes, I think they’re that good,” started Monye. “They’ve recruited incredibly well and what we saw especially in the second half of the season is an attacking identity emerging. Add in Finn Russell and I think they will be class.”

Monye was full of praise as he continued to wax lyrical about the Scotland international: “He is the headline signing of the season, I think Russell is the most naturally-talented fly-half in the world. He is truly world-class, he’s going to light up the Premiership. He is box office. Any team that has a magician like him in their side is going to be excellent.”

Anyone part of a struggling team in the past will know that it takes more than one player to turn fortunes around, but thanks to Bath’s impressive form towards the end of last season, there is certainly potential within their young group of players.

“Bath had a slightly stop-start season last time round, didn’t start in the way they would’ve wanted but credit to Johann van Graan and his players because they’ve stuck to who they are as a team” finished Monye.

Turning the conversation on to the top end of the table last year, the former Harlequins man spoke highly of former rivals Saracens, saying: “Saracens were by far and away the best team in the league last year, didn’t lose a single game at home in the Premiership, they’re exceptional. It’s not just the players, they’ve also got the best coaching staff in the league.

“In terms of rivals for their crown, Sale will be there or thereabouts once again, the last time I was there was for the Premiership semi-finals and it was a sell-out. All the players, staff, and the community had t-shirts that said ‘Northern Rugby Matters’ and it was the best atmosphere I’ve ever experienced at Sale Sharks.”

The Sale Sharks growth has not gone unnoticed by fans, nor pundits in recent times, with the club able to attract top-class English players such as Luke Cowan Dickie this season, and the likes of George Ford and Tom O’Flaherty at the start of last season.

“What they’re building there under the stewardship of Alex Sanderson is tremendous and I’m excited to go and see how they do next season.”

[Cowan-Dickie’s] the type of player and character that Alex Sanderson will love and I think the fans will love him,” Monye said about the new signing. “Combative, physical, and brilliant in the set-piece and that’s exactly the foundations which Sale have built their game upon. He’s a proper leader who will add so much to what Sale are building.”

Judging by the past few winners of the Premiership, it’s very difficult to distinguish who could possibly take the title this time around, a sentiment shared by the 40-year-old:

“The thing with the Premiership is because it’s so competitive, I could list so many teams that will be challenging at the top. Besides Bath; Harlequins will be there or thereabouts, and Northampton are a brilliant side to watch.

“Bristol will be a lot better this season. Exeter have had this changing of the guard, losing lots of key players but their young players have come through and are starting to make a name for themselves at Sandy Park.

“I honestly believe any of those teams could find themselves in the top four come the end of the season.”

Whatever the case, there’s bound to be plenty of excitement for fans to enjoy.

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