After months of speculation Anthony Watson has finally made a decision on his future. The England international’s contact with Bath was due to run out at the end of the season. Watson was one of the stars during the British & Irish Lions tour to New Zealand and was reportedly being pursued by four French clubs.
The 24-year-old has been a key figure for England with an impressive 15 tries in his 33 appearances. A move abroad would have put an end to his international future, with only domestic players considered.
Watson is in his fifth season with Bath and is closing in on 100 appearances and it’s now been confirmed he and three other senior players have committed the futures to Bath to “long-term” deals
Director of Rugby, Todd Blackadder, said: “Ant is one of those rare players who is incredibly talented yet so hungry to learn and get better every day. His performances for Bath have earned him games at the very highest level with England and the Lions, he is a role model to our players with his work ethic and commitment to the club. He’s currently out with an Achilles injury but that has not stopped him working tirelessly with our medical team to ensure he gets back to the field performing at the levels he expects of himself asap. We’re really looking forward to seeing him back in the Blue, Black and White in the New Year.”
Watson said: “I’m obviously happy to have re-signed with the club. We have a good bunch of lads and world class players who all desperately want to achieve something here.
“The coaches past and present have been key to me getting to where I am today and because of the opportunities they’ve given me, I feel a huge sense of loyalty to the club.
“Lastly a big thanks to the medical team who have worked so hard to help me in my rehab and get me back to full fitness.”
Fresh from agreeing deals with Taulupe Faletau, Semesa Rokoduguni, Zach Mercer and Beno Obano, Bath have agreed deals with three other key senior players too – Charlie Ewels, Nathan Catt and Elliott Stooke.
Blackadder said: “We have not shied away from the fact that we want to play smart attacking rugby, whilst also developing our own unique style of play. We know we are not there yet.
“To re-sign such an exciting group of players is testament to their belief in our direction of travel and the environment we have created here at Bath. Anthony Watson, Charlie Ewels, Nathan Catt and Elliott Stooke all have fundamental roles to play in our future and we are delighted to have ensured they are a part of it.
“Catty and Ewelsy are Bath men through and through and have played a crucial role both on and off the field throughout my time here. Both have deep-rooted knowledge of our game and our club, which has been invaluable to the squad and ensuring or culture remains strong.
“Stookie has developed his game considerably over the last few seasons. I’m incredibly proud to see him involved in the England set up, and I know the prospect of international rugby will drive his performances for our Club even further.
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Charlie Ewels, who came off the bench against the All Blacks last Saturday said: “We’re heading in an exciting direction as a Club and I’m really looking forward to being part of that journey.
“I’ve come through the Academy and it’s always been my focus to win trophies at this Club. I have no doubt that with the coaches and players we have here combined with the long-term vision, we can do just that.”
Stooke another within the England camp also spoke about his new Bath deal and said: “I feel like this place is home to me – the Club is definitely going in the right direction and we’re in a good place. There’s a good core of people here and they are the right boys to take Bath Rugby forward.
“I’ve had a sniff of the England setup, and this is without doubt the right place to progress myself as an international player. I’m really happy that I’m staying, and I’m looking forward to creating more memories with the lads and winning silverware in the future.”
Meanwhile Nathan Catt added: “I started my career with Bath over a decade ago, and it’s the place I want to finish as a player. I have a real attachment with the Club, supporters and the city as a whole, and I couldn’t be happier to continue my rugby journey here.”
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