Bath Rugby moves to Bristol Bears star Nathan Hughes

Bath Rugby is reported to have approached their derby rivals Bristol Bears to write Nathan Hughes, number eight, out of favour.

The Daily Mail reports that Bath has been in touch to bring the 30-year-old to The Rec on a loan to cover their injury crisis on their backs.

Wales-born Taulupe Faletau has yet to play a game this season, after he injured his ankle in September during training on his return from service with the British and Irish Lions – although he is expected soon – and South African Jaco Coetzee is sidelined with an ankle injury.

Josh Bayliss will be away during the Six Nations with Scotland and was headbutted on Saturday in Bath’s 64-7 thrashing of Leinster in the final group game of the Heineken Champions Cup.

Sam Underhill, who has also been busted out of eighth position for Bath this season, also suffered another HIA after just returning from a month out following a brain injury against Gloucester on Boxing Day.

As a result, in the back row, Bath is seriously out of fit and healthy options.

Bristol, on the other hand, has loaned former England international Hughes with 22 caps to Hartpury University this week as the Fiji-born backrower appears to be heading for the exit door at Ashton Gate.

After a poor start to the season, Hughes was dropped by Bears director of rugby Pat Lam, and apart from a rare start against Exeter Chiefs on Boxing Day, has spent most of the season holding tackle pads and traveling as an injury reserve .

Meanwhile, Hughes’ replacement at number eight in the Bristol side, Fitz Harding, continues to grow in stature as he was named the Heineken star of the match for his display in the Bears’ 52-21 win over Scarlets on Saturday.

Lam said of Harding after the game: “He is phenomenal.

He just gets better and better and he plays week after week. He is diligent.

“We emphasize the fact that he is now statistically the most dominant tackler in our team, but he does the extra work with Omar [Mouneimne, defence and collision coach].

“He is a very good ball carrier, but he goes and does the job with Jordan Crane [former England number eight and now academy transition coach].

“He’s very good at the set, but he goes and does the job with John Muldoon [former Ireland number eight and now Bears forward coach] so he gets rewards for the work.

“It’s not rocket science and he’s a great example of the hunger to improve and then performance will come.”

Beyond the glamor of the Champions Cup, Hughes made his debut at Hartpury in a 31-31 draw with London Scottish in the second-row RFU Championship on Friday night, and performed well at the ALPAS Arena, receiving a glowing rating from head coach John Barnes who said: “Nathan Hughes was clearly our best player. It’s just a shame that no one else has been able to match his efforts.”

Hughes scored a try and helped set up others, while fellow Bears teammate Mitch Eadie also did a try for Hartpury.


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