In a busy morning on the transfers front, Bath Rugby on Tuesday confirmed the signing of centre Robbie Fruean from Hawke’s Bay in New Zealand and tighthead prop Shaun Knight on loan from Newport Gwent Dragons.
Fruean, who will join at the completion of the Mitre 10 Cup competition in New Zealand, is a strong ball carrier with a highlight reel for fending and bouncing off would-be tacklers (Piri Weepu is one of many who can testify to receiving this treatment from Fruean).
Having played for the Crusaders and Chiefs at Super Rugby level, Fruean will compete mainly with Jonathan Joseph for the outside centre berth and is presumably seen as cover for Joseph during the autumn internationals and Six Nations.
Despite being a physically impressive athlete, Bath fans may still be concerned about the lack of recruitment at inside centre with Kyle Eastmond and Ollie Devoto, both excellent distributors from 12, leaving this summer and Fruean’s impending arrival cannot be considered a like-for-like substitution.
Fruean also has a history of long-term injuries, which have set his career back and Bath will be hoping these days are behind him now as they look to fill a midfield short on numbers and competition.
Despite this though, he will at the very least avoid Bath having to play others out of position, as was the case at the weekend with Matt Banahan, who had shown excellent early-season form on the wing, having to appear at outside centre to cover for the injured Joseph.
Knight, meanwhile, appears to be a short-term signing to cover the immediate loss of Dave Wilson who this week confirmed he is returning to Newcastle Falcons. Having previously played for West Country rivals Gloucester, Knight has also represented England U-20s at the 2009 and 2010 Junior World Cups and is regarded as a strong scrummager.
Despite being on a temporary deal, he will be given ample opportunity to compete for a starting place alongside current tightheads Henry Thomas and Kane Palma-Newport.
Hamish Milner, Pundit Arena