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Two Prem clubs in hunt for £500k a year 'Championship' No.8 Hughes

By Ian Cameron
Nathan Hughes /Getty

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Bristol Bears No.8 Nathan Hughes this week suffered the relative ignominy of being sent out to loan to Hartpury in the RFU Championship.

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With a purported annual salary of £500,000, Hughes instantly became the best-paid player in England’s second flight competition – but it looks like he won’t have to wait long to bounce back up into the Gallagher Premiership.

Two rival Premiership sides are said to be in the hunt for Hughes – who made a try-scoring bow for Hartpury this weekend in a 31 – 31 draw with London Scottish. “Nathan Hughes was clearly our best player.  It’s just a shame that nobody else stepped up to match his efforts,” said Director of Rugby John Barnes after the game.

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The Daily Mail write that Premiership strugglers Bath have made an approach to sign the Fijian born loose forward who signed to Pat Lam’s Bristol Bears back in 2019 from Wasps.

Bath have a number of injuries in the back row with Taulupe Faletau and Jaco Coetzee still absent with injury and Sam Underhill sustaining a concussion in his comeback match against Leinster in the Heineken Champions Cup yesterday, a game which also saw Scotland forward Josh Bayliss removed from the field in the opening 15 minutes.

According to reports, Bath may look to come to an agreement that would see Hughes make a mid-season switch to Stuart Hooper’s side.

Meanwhile, Neil Fissler in The Rugby Paper reports that Declan Kidney’s London Irish are also interested in the No.8.

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Standing at 6’5 and weighing in over 126kg, Hughes has found game time hard to come by in Bristol, where he has played just a handful of matches across the last three seasons. A persistent knee issue has, until recently, hampered his progress.

He went under the knife in 2020, but game time opportunities at Ashton Gate have been few and far between.

The 20-cap England No8 hasn’t played for Eddie Jones since 2018 and has said that he would be willing to use World Rugby’s new eligibility rules to declare for Fiji.

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