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Page last updated at 07:32 GMT, Friday, 21 May 2010 08:32 UK

Sam Vesty desperate to play regular rugby for Bath

Sam Vesty
Vesty has only started one Premiership game for Tigers this season

Utility back Sam Vesty says the prospect of another season on the bench at Leicester Tigers meant the decision to join Bath was an easy one.

Vesty played a key role in Leicester's superb end-of-season run in 2008/09.

But he tore his hamstring in the Heineken Cup final and after six months out has barely featured this season.

"I didn't want another year on the bench being third choice," he told BBC Radio Leicester. "I've had enough of that and couldn't cope with it again."

The 28-year-old, who moves to the Recreation Ground for the start of next term, starred in their club's charge to Premiership glory last season with a series of match-winning displays at fly-half.

The first thing my mum said is that I'll look nice in blue

Sam Vesty on playing for Bath

A stop-start career at the Tigers finally got going at the turn of the year and he was one of the major influences behind the run which took them so close to a Premiership and Heineken Cup double.

Vesty, who has been in the Tigers 22 for all seven finals in the last three seasons, also won two full England caps as a replacement in the summer Tests against Argentina.

But the injury against Leinster ruined his chances of fighting for his spot and the Leicester-born academy product found himself back down the pecking order again on his return to action in December.

He has made just three starts and three brief appearances as a replacement for Richard Cockerill's side this season and has just 281 minutes in total under his belt for his hometown club.

Hence the move to Premiership rivals Bath - a decision that provoked a mixed response in the Vesty family.

Vesty said: "My dad is disappointed that I'm leaving because he's a Leicester man but he understands I just want to play rugby.

"The first thing my mum said is that I'll look nice in blue."

But it was a decision he felt he had to make. Despite a trophy-laden time with Tigers he is desperate to be more than a squad player.

"I'm all for wanting to play and all I've done this season is watch and I'm not a great watcher," he added.

Sam Vesty
Vesty's father, grandfather and great grandfather all played for Tigers

"I had an horrific injury that kept me out for a long time and I never managed to get a foot in in the squad. Hopefully I will get the opportunity to play at Bath."

Vesty was offered a deal by Tigers but felt he would simply not get enough game time if he stayed: "I wanted to play, and I wasn't getting picked and it was looking like I wasn't going to."

A one-club man with more than 150 first-team appearances, Vesty admits it is a wrench to quit Welford Road.

"It's a great place to play and it's very sad to leave," Vesty said. "But I've had some awesome times there and with the club elsewhere as well."

The boyhood Tigers fan cites playing his first game as one of his main highlights - even though Tigers did lose that match against Leeds and he only made a brief substitute appearance.

He added: "There were Lots of European wins and trips and dos afterwards.

"But one that sticks in my mine we when we went to Leinster and Pat [Howard] made a tough, tough call to pick me at full-back and leave Austin [Healey] out and we won in the quarter-finals and that was a great, great day."

It is not just the playing side Vesty will miss, it is the long list of superstars and characters he played alongside.

"When I first came just the forward pack were full of internationals," he recalled.

"But there were also big characters and big leaders. I've been captained by Martin Johnson - not many people can say that - and Martin Corry who was another great leader.

"And there's Dorian West, Graham Rowntree, Darren Garforth - just to see how people do things differently was great. I can't name enough.

"Neil Back turned your head in the way he did things - he was so focused and Dorian West with his big tummy did things very differently but they both won World Cup finals."

I've been told by lots of the boys that they will beat me up and stand on me

Sam Vesty

Now his career takes him to Bath and he cannot wait to get started.

"They have some good guys at the top at Bath," Vesty added.

"They are going places with the squad they are building and will probably have a stronger squad next year than they have had this year.

"Most squads are trimming down but Bath are managing to increase their squad. I'm really looking forward to it."

But how will the versatile Vesty deal with returning to Welford Road as an opposition player next season?

"It will be weird," he said. "I've been told by lots of the boys that they will beat me up and stand on me - mostly Geordan Murphy and he's the captain."



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