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'Chris will bring a new dimension': Bath sign Cloete from Munster

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Andrew Surma/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Damian de Allende won’t be following Johann van Graan to Bath next season but the South African coach won’t be leaving Munster empty-handed as flanker Chris Cloete will be joining him at The Rec for the 2022/23 campaign. The 31-year-old Cloete arrived in Ireland at around the same time in 2017 as van Graan took over the reins from Rassie Erasmus and he has since gone on to enjoy five industrious seasons with the Irish province where he played in 63 matches.

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How, though, he is Premiership bound along with his head coach. A Bath statement on Wednesday read: “Chris Cloete will join Bath for the 2022/23 season. The South African-born openside flank had been a powerful presence at Munster for the past five seasons and will add power to the blue, black and white pack.

“Cloete, 31, played for Southern Kings, Western Province and the Pumas in South Africa before moving to Ireland where he won the PRO14 turnover king award in 2020/21.”

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Chris Ashton | Rugby Roots
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Chris Ashton | Rugby Roots

Bath CEO Tarquin McDonald said: “Chris will bring a new dimension to an impressive group of back row forwards, as we maintain our primary recruitment focus of adding power to the pack for next season. Negotiations with second row forwards are continuing.”

Cloete added: “To play in the Premiership has always been a clear ambition and I look forward to making a significant contribution as Bath move towards the top of the league. It is a fantastic club with great history, and the supporters deserve nothing less than a winning team.”

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It was earlier this month when RugbyPass quizzed Bath director of rugby Stuart Hooper on how much involvement the incoming van Graan was having regarding planning the recruitment for next season? “Johann has had small amounts of input but he understands what we are doing and why we are doing it,” said Hooper.

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“He is absolutely focused on Munster now but we have taken small pockets of time, when they have not had a game, for example, to get through the detail so that he is absolutely on board with the plan of what is going on and when he comes in in July that he has got the squad and the group that he needs.”

In other news for Munster, No8 Gavin Coombes has signed a two-year contract extension to keep him at the province until at least 2025. The 24-year-old, who last season became Munster’s youngest-ever player of the year last, was already contracted until 2023 and has signed a two-year extension to that deal.

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