Hooper on verge of Bath return
January 19, 2012
Bath will hope to call on Stuart Hooper's experience sooner rather than later © Getty Images
Bath are hopeful that skipper Stuart Hooper will be back to face the Glasgow Warriors on Saturday.
The West Country side have endured an injury-laden season and their form has suffered as a result. Bath lie tenth in the Aviva Premiership and have just won once in the Heineken Cup. But coach Brad Davis is hopeful the second-row - who has been absent with an arm injury - will feature against Glasgow ahead of what could prove to be two key matches in the Anglo-Welsh Cup for Sir Ian McGeechan's men.
And Davis admits they may rest certain players - including scrum-half Michael Claassens for the match - in a bid to ensure qualification to the semi-finals of the Anglo-Welsh Cup.
"Stuart is a possibility," Davis told the Bath Chronicle when talking about the Glasgow match. "He has a fitness test, but he has a chance and it's great news to get him back.
"There are some guys in our squad who are going to have to take a break this week, whether by coming off the bench or by missing out. We are going to make some changes and if we can give guys a bit of a breather, we will. If our hands are tied in certain places because of injuries, then we'll have to deal with it and select the strongest side we can.
"Claassy [Michael Claassens] could get a breather. Chris Cook is ready and waiting and has a really good chance. He's been patient over the last few weeks while Claassy has probably played some of his best rugby.
"Chris is an exciting player for us and the more game time we can get him the better. I've no doubt he can pitch it at this level or even higher. He has great potential."
And Davis is adamant cross-code signing Kyle Eastmond will get more game time for the West Country side after appearing just once so far due to injury. "He's a talented rugby player and I'm expecting big things from him," Davis told BBC Radio Bristol. "He hasn't had a huge amount of game time and his best learning will be done out on the field, in the thick of the action.
"When the ball is in general play, whether it's in rugby union or rugby league, the talent of the player shines through. He's got good guys around him out on the field, that can nudge him in the right place."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies
Tom Hamilton runs the rule over just where the six countries stand ahead of the global gathering in September