Catt departure may sever last link with Bath's glory days

Click to follow

Mike Catt's future, or lack of it, as a member of the Bath club he joined as an amateur 12 years ago will become clear over the next few days. The last surviving link to the glory days of the 1990s, when the likes of Stuart Barnes and John Hall led the West Countrymen to well over a dozen domestic league and knock-out titles in the space of a decade, the South African-born midfielder will be on his way out of the Recreation Ground unless the management show more of a desire to retain his services.

Bath have already allowed one significant wage-earner, the England full-back Iain Balshaw, to take his financial demands elsewhere. Balshaw signed a three-year contract with Leeds last week. Catt, another mega-bucks man, may well head in the same direction, having failed to make progress in the quest for an extension to his contract, which expires at the end of the campaign.

Capped 63 times by England, Catt has played precious little rugby for Bath this season. Now 32 and increasingly injury-prone, he is considered by the Bath management to be a more senior version of Balshaw - hugely talented, but unable to offer value for money. John Connolly, the Bath coach, has been quoted as saying he would like to re-sign Catt on a game-by-game basis. It was not a comment designed to curry favour with the Catt-lovers on the terraces, but with a phalanx of gifted backs available to him - Olly Barkley, Mike Tindall, Matt Perry, Simon Danielli, Robbie Fleck and the highly-rated youngster Alex Crockett, to name but half a dozen - Connolly does not feel particularly threatened by the potential for supporters' unrest.

Leeds are certainly interested in luring Catt to Headingley, where his know-how at outside-half or inside-centre would add an interesting something to the Tykes' attacking game. Another possible destination might be Worcester, now busily preparing for their first season in the Premiership. However, Cecil Duckworth, their financier-in-chief, has publicly denied any contact with the player.

There has been a second Yorkshire team in this season's Premiership, not that anyone has noticed. Poor old Rotherham, anchored at the bottom of the table with no wins from 20 matches and relegated so long ago that few can remember when they were still a going concern, will require a new coach for next term in National League One.

Steph Nel, the South African recruited midway through the campaign, is pushing off into the wide blue yonder. "The post is to be advertised, and I will not be reapplying," he said. "There are a lot of reasons for my decision, but I don't want to go into them until we have played our last two games, against Leicester and Newcastle." Nel is a resourceful character, but he would have needed the arts and crafts of Merlin himself to rescue a team capable of conceding 35 points a match.

Meanwhile, in the Celtic League, Newport Gwent Dragons confirmed yesterday that Declan Kidney, the former Munster coach, was a "major contender" to replace Mike Ruddock as the coach at Rodney Parade next season. Ruddock is about to go national with the Wales team, succeeding Steve Hansen, who is returning to his native New Zealand to work with the All Blacks.

Kidney watched the Dragons wipe the floor with their rivals, the Cardiff Blues, at the weekend. "The deal isn't done, but Declan's record speaks for itself," said David Jenkins, the regional side's out-going chief executive. Leigh Jones, currently coaching the Newport club team, and the Wales Under-19 coach David Rees are also thought to be under consideration.

Comments