Matt Banahan will leave Bath at the end of the season to join Premiership rivals Gloucester, ending his 12-year spell at the Recreation Ground.
The 31-year-old has scored 90 tries in more than 250 appearances for Bath since joining them in 2006 – originally as a forward before being converted to a wing – and has made 16 appearances for England, scoring four Test tries along the way, although he has not been selected for his country since the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
“I want to say a massive thank you to the Bath rugby supporters,” Banahan said in a statement issued on Twitter. “It’s been an absolute honour to be part of this club and city for the past 12 seasons.
“Unfortunately, changes sometimes happen and my chapter at Bath is set to finish, but not without many massive memories of all the good times I have had here. The club will always be held very close to me and my family.
“I’m looking forward to giving my all til [sic] the end of the season and leaving my shirt in a better place.”
The 6ft 7in Jersey-born back, who remains one of the largest wings in the Premiership, will see out the 2017/18 campaign with Bath before making the short move north to Kingsholm, and Gloucester’s director of rugby David Humphreys believes the addition strengthens his side’s strength in depth as they look to continue their resurgence.
“We are thrilled that Matt has decided to join Gloucester Rugby at the end of the season,” Humphreys said.
"Matt has had a wonderful career at Bath and he will bring a huge amount of quality and experience to the young, exciting squad we are building in Gloucester.
"His versatility and ability to play in a number of positions across the backline adds real depth to our squad and Matt's quality will complement the style of rugby [head coach] Johan Ackermann has brought to the club this season.
"I know how tough a decision it was for Matt to leave Bath but we're all looking forward to seeing him playing in Cherry and White next season."
Bath director of rugby Todd Blackadder admitted it was a sad day for the club to see a stalwart choose to leave, but attempted to appease fans by confirming that they are on the lookout for a replacement and plan to make an announcement later in the season.
“We’ll be really sad to see Matt leave at the end of the season, but we completely understand the decision he has made with his family and future in mind,” Blackadder said.
“I’d like to thank him for all his efforts over the years - he’s been a fantastic servant for Bath. Everyone at the Club wishes him well with the next chapter of his career and will welcome him back to the Rec when the time comes. I’ve no doubt he’ll remain as committed as ever as we work to achieve our aims for the rest of the season.
“We’re working hard to ensure we get the right balance in the squad, taking into account the various complexities of building the squad we want long-term, and we will make further announcements on recruitment when appropriate.”
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