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Page last updated at 10:06 GMT, Sunday, 14 June 2009 11:06 UK

Watson completes switch to Bath


Bath's best days still to come - Watson

Bath have completed the signing of Western Province captain and former South Africa back rower Luke Watson.

Watson has agreed a two-year deal with the Premiership club and will join up with them after this year's Currie Cup competition, which ends in October.

"I've only heard very, very good things about Bath and it's an awesome opportunity for me to start a new career," Watson told BBC Sport.

The 25-year-old has won 10 caps in a turbulent career with the Springboks.

His selection for the Springboks became a major talking point in 2007 as South Africa's rugby union bosses were placed under pressure from the country's government to select more black players at Super 14 and international level.

Watson, the son of famous anti-apartheid activist Cheeky Watson, was considered too small for international action by then coach Jake White, but politicians said that he should be thought of as a black player and given selection preference.


He has sought the advice of former team-mates and present Bath players Butch James and Pieter Dixon on his move to the Premiership and is relishing the prospect of a change of scenery where he can "get some new experiences in life".

Watson added: "It's always a tough decision to leave South Africa and move abroad.

"But Bath has an incredible tradition, there's a culture of rugby in Bath and to come in and be a part of that is awesome.

"Whatever impact I can have on the team would be fantastic. They've been through some rough times of late but no doubt their best days are still to come."

Head coach Steve Meehan is delighted with the signing, saying: "Luke Watson is a very talented rugby player and an experienced leader who is yet to reach his peak.

"We are very happy to have him arriving at Bath, even though we may have to wait until November.

"We are certain he will have a huge impact. Our discussions have been very straightforward, and neither of us is in any doubt of the way Bath play their rugby and the responsibilities he will inherit."

The capture of Watson, who captained Western Province in their game against the British and Irish Lions on 13 June, will be a boost for Bath who have made the headlines for the wrong reasons so far this summer.

Michael Lipman, Alex Crockett and Andrew Higgins all resigned from the club at the start of June with the Rugby Football Union launching an inquiry into allegations made against the trio.

And in May, Australian lock Justin Harrison requested an early release from his contract following an alleged incident during the club's end-of-season party.

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