Nathan Catt is confident that the strength in depth will serve Bath Rugby well going into the 2018/19 season.
Catt was one of the injury absentees last season, but believes that the Club are in a strong position with a number of players returning ahead of the new campaign. The front rower has joined the likes of Semesa Rokoduguni and Sam Underhill back in training, with Will Chudley, Joe Cokanasiga, Alex Davies, Ruaridh McConnochie, Jamie Roberts and Jackson Willison all linking up with their new teammates for pre-season.
“It’s going to be massive for us,” said Catt, who made his first team debut in 2008. “Everyone is going to be on the same page and it will give us an extended period of time to train together and put in to practice the goals that we have for the season and the blueprint that we’re going to go with.
“There are some new young guys that have come in, so it gives them the chance to adapt and learn from some of the senior players. There are some really experienced players who have done some pretty exceptional things in the sport, so they’re going to be huge for us going into the season. That enthusiasm is really important and they’ve got stuck in straight away, so it’s a really exciting time.”
Zach Mercer, Beno Obano and Josh Bayliss have been just a few of the young players who have shone in the Blue, Black and White over the last 18 months, and Catt believes that the Club will continue to reap the rewards of the talent coming through.
“The injuries we’ve had over the last few years have meant that there have been opportunities for the young guys and they’ve all come and taken them unbelievably well,” he added. There’s a new fresh lot (of Academy players) coming in this year, so that will only drive competition through pre-season and everyone will be looking to impress the coaches. It just means the better they do and the better the first team do, everything keeps going in the right direction for the Club.
“It’s a good pressure (competition for places). If you use Josh Bayliss as an example, I’ve never seen anyone as fit as him. You’re now going to see some of the senior players who can’t afford to take their foot off the gas. It’s all about learning from each other and helping each other and raise the standards.”
For Catt, the focus is getting back in the number one jersey and adding to his 153 appearances, but the wider ambition remains the same for the long-serving front rower.
“I’ve been really enjoying be back out there with the boys and not in rehab. It was a frustrating time last year, but it’s great being out on the training paddock. I’m now just looking forward to getting back out there at the Rec and contributing to the team.
“For the squad and the supporters, we want to win things it’s been too long. We want to go and get some silverware – it’s easier said than done. To start with, it’s about looking at the processes, the game plan and working hard on our skill sets.”