Bath have confirmed the signing of Jaco Coetzee from the Stormers, a replacement for Zach Mercer, who the club confirmed is leaving for Montpellier.

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RugbyPass reported last week that rumours were circulating in South Africa linking the highly-rated forward to Bath, and the club have now confirmed the move, with Director of Rugby Stuart describing it as ‘an unbelievably exciting addition’.

Mercer, who was on the margins of England’s senior squad before an injury set-back, will bid farewell to the club at the end of the current season.

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“It has been a long-standing dream of mine to play in France – the game is physical and will suit my playing style,” said the No.8. “I feel like I am able to offer the TOP14 something different and that is what I am looking forward to.

“I found it impossible to say no to the offer of a long-term contract with Montpellier and I’m very grateful to have had respectful and honest conversations every step of the way with Hoops (Stuart Hooper). There is a brilliant group of players and staff at Bath and I know they will go on to achieve great things together.”

Hooper accepted that now was the right time for Mercer to leave the club, a move that had surprised the English rugby community.

“Zach is an exceptional player and one who we feel very proud of at Bath,” said Hooper. “He has an exciting time ahead of him in France and after many conversations, we know this is the right move for him at this stage of his career. These conversations, alongside Zach’s maturity as a young man, allowed us the time to secure a high-quality player with the exact attributes we need heading into 2021/22. We will never hold any players back from realising their dreams and on this occasion, we see a brilliant young man leave to do just this.

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“With Jaco’s arrival, we feel we have an unbelievably exciting addition to the squad who will be available to play for the Club for the full season. He’s an intimidating ball carrier and will cause huge problems for our opposition no matter where he is on the field. I’m looking forward to seeing him compete with our current group of strong back rowers to get on the field for us.”

 

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