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Bath bolster back division with signing of New Zealander Dan Bowden

Published 27/12/2015

Bath have announced the signing of former Leicester and London Irish back Dan Bowden
Bath have announced the signing of former Leicester and London Irish back Dan Bowden

Bath have moved to strengthen their back division options by signing former Leicester and London Irish player Dan Bowden.

The 29-year-old New Zealander will arrive from Super Rugby franchise Auckland Blues next month, Bath coach Toby Booth confirmed following a 21-14 Aviva Premiership victory over Recreation Ground visitors Worcester.

And Bowden's arrival is set to intensify speculation that Bath fly-half Rhys Priestland could be available for Wales after all this season.

It had been understood that Priestland would take an 18-month sabbatical from Test rugby, starting with the RBS 6 Nations Championship that gets under way in early February.

But the recruitment of Bowden - a fly-half or centre - suggests that Priestland could remain part of the Wales set-up, with Bath also set to be without England number 10 George Ford during the Six Nations campaign.

"Dan is a very intelligent player," Booth said. "From a 10/12 point of view, you want as many ball-players as you can.

"He is an obsessive sort of player. What I mean by that is he has a massive thirst for knowledge and thirst for the game, and he will drive people's preparation to be at the same standard as his. I think he's arriving in early January.

"We have got a lot of young backs, so the more we can fast-track their knowledge, then hopefully we can move the progression of the group that little bit better."

Asked about Priestland's situation, Booth added: "It is not the reason we have recruited Dan Bowden. We had an opportunity to specifically recruit him."

Bath posted only a third Premiership win of the season - and their first for seven weeks - after first-half tries by centre Ollie Devoto and wing Horacio Agulla underpinned victory, although Worcester proved predictably dogged opponents during an often dour struggle.

Priestland kicked three penalties and a conversion, while Worcester replied through a Cooper Vuna try, plus two penalties from former Bath number 10 Tom Heathcote and a long-range Ryan Mills strike.

Priestland, who was handed a rare start instead of Ford since his move from the Scarlets earlier this year, drove Bath to victory by cleverly mixing his running and kicking game.

And it was just what Bath required ahead of next weekend's trip to Newcastle, which is followed by European Champions Cup games against Toulon, either side of meeting Leinster in Dublin, before visiting Premiership leaders Saracens on January 30.

"The challenge for us now is where we go from here," Booth said.

"We have been a case of win one, lose one, win one. Consistency is key, and if you can put together three or four wins in a row, it makes the world of difference to everything."

Worcester boss Dean Ryan, meanwhile, added: "We will take the bonus point. I am pretty proud of the guys' efforts.

"I like the way we are heading and the rugby we are playing, and a point here at the end of the season will look bigger than it does now.

"I am really excited what we will get out of 2016. I think we are really starting to travel, although we know we still have got some issues.

"It was a good point. Not many teams come away from here with something in the bank."

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