Thursday, 18 November 2010

Could it soon be Bath time for Wallaby lock Chisholm?

Here's an exclusive of mine published in today's Bath Chronicle

Experienced Australia international Mark Chisholm is being lined up by Bath Rugby as a muscular addition to the club's second row.

The Chronicle understands that negotiations with the 56-cap Wallaby are advanced, with the 29-year-old having visited Bath's Farleigh Hungerford headquarters for talks.

Sources say the 6ft 6in lock forward, who started for Australia in the 35-18 loss at Twickenham on Saturday, visited Farleigh House shortly after the Wallaby squad touched down in England ahead of the Investec Autumn International series.
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The Chronicle also understands that Bath have expressed an interest in signing Dave Attwood, Gloucester's Bristol-born lock. The 23-year-old made his England debut against New Zealand a fortnight ago.

"Signing Chisholm and Attwood would mean it was 'problem solved' for Bath in the second row," said a source close to the club. "But that's a lot of money."

With veteran lock Danny Grewcock retiring at the end of the season and promising 22-year-old Scott Hobson suffering with a long-term arm injury, the second row has been identified by the Bath management as a potential weak spot.

Cover has been provided this season in the form of seasoned Argentinian lock Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe and US Eagles skipper John van der Giessen, who are both on short-term contracts. But Bath are keen to secure top-drawer replacements on longer term deals sooner rather than later.

Chisholm and Attwood would fit the bill nicely. The former, who hails from Queensland like Bath head coach Steve Meehan, has a prolific try-scoring record for a lock, while the abrasive Attwood has been identified as a potential England 'enforcer' of the future.

Chisholm – reputed to have the biggest biceps in the Wallabies set up – started his career with Queensland Reds before joining the Canberra-based Brumbies in 2003, where he has remained ever since.

The virtues of life at The Rec may well have been extolled to him by club-mate Julian Salvi. Salvi returned to Canberra in the summer having enjoyed an eye-catching season at Bath, where he excelled at openside flanker and was named the club's Forward of the Season.

In his final interview before returning to his homeland, Salvi told the Chronicle of his fondness for Bath Rugby and his determination to return after a stint back in Australia. That enthusiasm for Bath will doubtless have been transmitted to rugby circles back in Canberra.

Chisholm, who has played Test rugby at blindside flanker as well as at lock, made his international debut against Scotland in 2004.

He made three appearances for Australia in the 2007 World Cup and any move to Bath is likely to occur in November after the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand.

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