Anthony Watson is set to remain with Bath

THE GAIN LINE: Anthony Watson facing decision day over Bath future… while Ollie Lawrence and Ted Hill give Worcester an early Christmas present

  •  Johann van Graan keen to keep hold of Bath star Anthony Watson next season
  •  Nathan Hughes expected to leave Bristol after failing to agree a new deal
  •  Ollie Lawrence and Ted Hill will remain with Worcester Warriors

One of Johann van Graan’s priorities at Bath is to ensure that Anthony Watson does not activate an exit clause at the end of the season.

Although he does not start work at the Rec until next summer, the coach is already in contact with director of rugby Stuart Hooper about recruitment and retention.

The transfer market has loosened up following George Ford and Ellis Genge’s departure from Leicester, with Exeter lock Jonny Hill also close to announcing a move to Sale.

Johann van Graan is keen for Anthony Watson to remain with Bath for the upcoming campaign

Gain Line understands Watson is leaning towards staying, despite interest domestically and abroad. Van Graan’s recruitment drive will focus on finding an experienced No 10 to work alongside promising fly-half Orlando Bailey, with Danny Cipriani out of contract at the end of the season.

Newcastle scrum-half Louis Schreuder is understood to be in talks with the club, having previously played under Van Graan in the Springboks set-up.

Hughes on Scarletts radar

Leicester Tigers have made enquiries about signing Scarlets midfielder Steff Hughes. Head coach Steve Borthwick is in the market for a ball-playing centre to work outside Handre Pollard. Hughes has captained the Scarlets and has also filled in at fly-half.

Clubs put on Covid alert for Christmas

Premiership clubs have been ordered to tighten up their Covid protocols in a bid to save the Christmas fixtures.

The latest round of testing revealed a record number of cases, with 47 players and seven members of staff returning positive results across the league.

Harlequins are set to face Northampton Saints in a blockbuster encounter over Christmas

With a busy round of festive fixtures ahead, including Harlequins’ multi-million-pound ‘Big Game’ against Northampton Saints at Twickenham, the Professional Game Board have circulated a list of additional safety measures.

These include increased testing, use of face coverings at all times indoors, minimising indoor meetings and enhanced social distancing and ventilation. 

Hughes heading for Bristol exit door

Nathan Hughes could become a victim of the salary cap squeeze, with the Bristol No 8 yet to agree a new contract with the club. Hughes is likely to leave Bristol, who have started refreshing their squad with the signing of Ellis Genge.

Nathan Hughes could leave Bristol at the end of the season following the arrival of Ellis Genge

Joe props up Met 

Student prop Joe Cowell turned down the opportunity to play for Cardiff against Harlequins yesterday because he did not want to miss the city’s universities derby match.

Cowell, 19, made his professional debut in the defeat by Toulouse but told the management last week that his intention was to play for Cardiff Met against Cardiff Uni on Wednesday.

He helped his team to a 27-26 win and ended up being travelling reserve at The Stoop yesterday.

 Lawrence and Hill to remain with Worcester

England rookies Ollie Lawrence and Ted Hill have told the relieved Worcester hierarchy that they will stay at Sixways next season. Both players have exit clauses in their contracts and had been linked with moves away from the West Midlands.

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