Worcester have signed Bristol lock Joe Batley, the 23-year-old whose career was disrupted when diagnosed with stage two Hodgkin’s Lymphoma during the Bears’ Greene King IPA Championship-winning campaign in 2017/18.
He was given the all-clear to resume playing after a course of debilitating chemotherapy and was on loan at Leicester Tigers before the 2019/20 Gallagher Premiership season was interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic lockdown.
After becoming the Warriors’ third signing for 2020/21 following the recruitment of Wasps fly-half Billy Searle and Exeter Chiefs and England back row forward Matt Kvesic, along with Bristol coaches Jonathan Thomas and Mark Irish, Batley said: “I know Jonathan Thomas and Mark Irish really well. I have enjoyed working with them over the last three years at Bristol so the chance to continue working with them was something that really excited me.
“I enjoy their coaching ethos and how they want the game to be played so it will be nice to keep that going as well as being in a new environment with a new bunch of boys. From the conversations I have had with Alan Solomons, he’s got a very good vision about what he wants the club to achieve and I want to be part of that.”
Having played his formative rugby for Gosport & Fareham – where his parents and brother are still actively involved – Batley was signed by Gloucester where he developed through the academy to the senior squad before joining Bristol.
Standing 6ft 6ins tall, he has been capped by England at Under-18s and Under-21s and his Sixways arrival was welcomed by Worcester boss Alan Solomons. “He is a big, athletic, young English lock, who has gained representative honours for England at age-grade level.
“He has worked with both Jonathan and Mark which will be of huge benefit as he seeks to make his mark at the club. He is also a first-class bloke and a good team man and I look forward to working with him.”
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