Bath are expected to announce today that they have signed Henry Paul from Wigan rugby league club on a short winter contract. The New Zealander is a centre who not only scores tries but kicks goals. He therefore presents a threat to England's centre Jeremy Guscott, since the Bath captain, Phil de Glanville, is hardly likely to be left out.
Paul, 22, is reported to have agreed a deal with Bath worth around pounds 100,000 for four months, the contract running from 11 September to 11 January, which coincides neatly with the proposed European Cup. Having committed themselves to paying something approaching pounds 6,000 per week, Bath will want their money's worth, so it is highly unlikely that Paul would be put on a rota. He could always turn out at full-back, but there is Jon Callard to consider. As it is, Paul's short contract will mean him missing out on the Pilkington Cup and the latter stages of the Courage League programme.
However, there could be a hitch. Paul, together with Va'iga Tuigamala and Gary Connolly, is challenging a move by the Rugby Football League to bar their short term moves into union. Tuigamala and Connolly are set for Wasps and Harlequins respectively, but the League's chief executive, Maurice Lindsay, has told clubs that they must seek the governing body's permission before agreeing to cross-code transfers.
According to Wigan, though, the contract has been signed. The reason for the short- term nature of the deal is because Wigan are scheduled to go on a tour of New Zealand in late January.
Having missed out on Kyran Bracken, of Saracens, and Cardiff's Robert Howley, they are thought to be interested in Argentina's scrum-ahlf, Augustin Pichot, named yesterday in the Barbarians team to play Wales in Cardiff next weekend.
Mike Brewer, the former New Zealand captain, will assist with coaching Ireland this season. Brewer, a member of the side beaten by South Africa in last year's World Cup final, joined the Dublin-based club Blackrock College at the end of last season. He is expected to help out this weekend at a five-day squad session in Limerick.
Barbarians team, Digest,