Josh Bayliss is looking forward to progressing even more when he steps up to the Bath Rugby senior squad for the 2018/19 campaign.
The flanker is one of the brightest upcoming talents in the country, and his breakthrough season was capped off by receiving the Academy Player of the Season prize at the Bath Rugby Annual Awards Evening last month.
“I was absolutely honoured and surprised,” admitted Bayliss. “I think it’s a good reflection of how far the Academy has come this season. A lot of guys have stepped up and performed well.
“To follow in Zach (Mercer’s) footsteps by winning this and moving into the first team is a dream come true, and I hope I can now develop my game even more under Todd and the first team coaches.”
Bayliss has caught the attention with a number of eye-catching performances for both Bath United and the first team over the course of the season. The 20-year-old also captained United, a moment which was a particular highlight in a year, which also saw him score his first Aviva Premiership try in the 33-32 victory over Sale Sharks in February.
“I remember the first time I captained the team was against London Irish at home. Running out at the Rec with the captain’s armband was something I’ve always dreamed of and to do it was really special.
“It’s been an honour to lead the United team and the extra responsibility that brought really helped me develop both as a player and a leader."
Bayliss will be in stiff competition for a starting jersey next season, competing with the likes of Francois Louw and Sam Underhill, but admits that the depth in the back row only drives him to becoming an even better player.
“I’m can’t wait - guys like Zach, Toby (Faletau), Flo and Sam have already been very influential. To be able to train and play alongside them will be a great experience and a great way to learn more about the game.”
Bayliss also paid tribute to Academy manager Andy Rock and the Academy setup for their influence on his meteoric rise to the first team.
“Andy has done a fantastic job since he joined and has helped me massively get to where I am today.”
“The Academy has got a really clear direction and you’ve seen this season just how the players have stepped up and performed when called upon. It’s very promising for the future of this Club.”