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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 June 2006, 15:39 GMT 16:39 UK
Bath swoop for league star Walker
Chev Walker
Walker made his Rhinos debut when he was 16-years-old
Bath have completed the signing of Chev Walker from league side Leeds Rhinos.

The deal, which was completed with the "co-operation" of the Rugby Football Union, will see the 23-year-old centre stay at The Rec until 2009.

Walker, who made his Great Britain debut against Australia in 2004, will join the club in November after the current Super League season finishes.

"It's hard to leave Leeds - I've been there eight years - but I'm ready for a new challenge," Walker told BBC Sport.

"My main aim is to get to Bath and learn the game and get in the team.

"Anything that comes after that is a bonus. I've just got to knuckle down and do well for Bath, then hopefully I can do that for England.

"It's not about money - I'd had a great offer from Leeds. It's more about the wealth of opportunity.

"It's going to be 12 months of continuous rugby but the new challenge will freshen me up."

Walker's move was welcomed by England coach Andy Robinson, currently in Australia for a two-Test series.
Andy Farrell of Saracens
Farrell has yet to play a game since his move to the 15-a-side game

"I have been tracking him for some time and he has a lot to offer rugby union," Robinson told BBC Sport.

"It's always good to put pressure on players to perform. We have Matthew Tait, Jamie Noon and Mike Tindall at outside centre, but to improve performance you've got to look at bringing in quality players.

"Having Chev Walker at Bath and proving himself in union will only improve England."

Walker follows former Great Britain captain Andy Farrell, Jason Robinson and Henry Paul in making high-profile moves to union of late.

Farrell's switch to Saracens from Wigan was also part funded by the RFU, although he has yet to play a game because of injury.

Sale full-back Robinson won 39 caps for England as well as making two Lions tours before announcing his international retirement last year.

Paul returned to league last month after a four-year stint in union with Gloucester, winning six England caps in the process.

Chev is joining a great club, and he will have one eye on translating his talents on to the international field with England

Bath rugby director Jack Rowell

"Chev is highly rated by Andy Robinson and backs coach Ashton, with great proven ability in rugby league and huge potential in rugby union," said RFU chief executive Francis Baron.

"This is a smaller support package than for previous cross-code transfers - Jason Robinson, Henry Paul and Andy Farrell - but one we feel will be beneficial to Chev, England, and Bath."

Walker's switch is expected to lead to his withdrawal from Great Britain's squad for the rugby league Test against New Zealand on 27 June.

Walker has been named in Brian Noble's initial 36-man line-up for a game that is seen as a key part of the build-up for the Tri-Nations series in the autumn.

"I have kept Brian informed all the way and they will not now pick him for the St Helens match because he won't be there in November," said Walker's manager David Howes.


Walker, who boasts a league strike-rate of almost one try every two games, made his Rhinos debut when he was 16.

He served a short term in a young offenders' institute in 2003 for his part in a brawl in Leeds city centre.

But he has won six Great Britain caps and featured in the Challenge Cup finals in 2003 and 2005 as well as helping Leeds to the Super League title in 2004.

"Chev is a young player with proven skills in the cauldron of Super League," said Bath rugby director and former England coach Jack Rowell.

"He is a quick, powerful and skilful player who will reinforce the Bath Rugby back line.

"He is joining a great club, and he will have one eye on translating his talents on to the international field with England.

"However, patience will be needed with Chev as it will take time for him to adapt to rugby union, as other players who have crossed between the codes have shown."

Walker joins a club that have lost head coach Ashton, forwards coach Michael Foley and skills coach Richard Graham over the last few weeks.

Storm interested in Walker move
24 May 06 |  Rugby League
Ashton named England attack coach
25 May 06 |  Internationals
Foley to leave Bath for Australia
07 Mar 06 |  Rugby Union
Sarries sign backs coach Graham
04 May 06 |  English
Rhinos stand by jailed duo
31 Jul 03 |  Rugby League


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