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Abendanon heading for France

Nick Abendanon will end his nine-year Bath career by joining French giants Clermont Auvergne in the summer.

The two-cap England full-back will be released a year early from his Recreation Ground contract after requesting a move to the French Top 14 club.

Clermont have agreed to buy Abendanon out of the final season of his contract, a transfer fee believed to reach six figures.

The 27-year-old should pass 200 Bath appearances before heading across the Channel in the summer.

Bath offset the news of Abendanon's impending departure by announcing a new two-year contract for England centre Kyle Eastmond, who will stay at the club until 2016.

Head coach Mike Ford said Bath were never going to stand in Abendanon's way, given his long service to the west country club.

"Nick has been a great player for Bath, and we thank him for all he's done over the years," Bath head coach Mike Ford said.

"He felt it was time to go and that Clermont represented an opportunity he couldn't turn down. I know Nick will remain totally committed to our cause this season."

And Abendanon added: "I have loved every minute I have played for Bath and want to thank the club for giving me the opportunities they have done.

"This has been an extremely hard decision for me, but I feel this is the right time to challenge myself in a new environment."

England centre Eastmond's contract extension provided a timely boost with stalwart Abendanon confirming his intentions to head overseas.

The 24-year-old former St Helens flyer switched codes from rugby league in 2011, and has since won a place in England coach Stuart Lancaster's elite player squad.

The Oldham-born playmaker has established himself at inside centre, with Bath boss Ford impressed with his progress.

"Kyle's already an excellent player, and we only see him improving," said Ford.

"His attitude, combined with the environment we're working to create here at Bath, will see him get even better.

"We're very pleased to have him extend with us for another two years."

Eastmond said it was a straightforward decision to complete terms on a new deal with Bath.

"I've learned so much since joining Bath, and that's down to the set-up here and the people around me," he said.

"All I want to do is improve and to help the team achieve great things.

"I'm really happy to have extended my contract as there's no other club I'd rather play for."

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