Bath Rugby believe the signing of Leicester pair Sam Vesty and Lewis Moody underscores how serious the club is about supplanting the Tigers as the Premiership's top guns. Bath chief executive Nick Blofeld acknowledges that the East Midlanders have been the pace-setters in recent seasons – a fact reinforced by their comprehensive win over Bath at Welford Road on Saturday. But after completing the signing of England international Vesty yesterday, Blofeld is confident Bath's squad is taking on the kind of shape that will ensure it pushes for top honours next season. Bath plan on using the 28-year-old as back-up for World Cup-winning fly-half Butch James for the 2010-11 campaign, although Vesty's versatility means he could also stake claims for the number 12 and 15 shirts. Blofeld is adamant that Vesty has not been signed as a replacement for James, who last month was linked to a return to the Natal Sharks. Recent well-sourced rumours that Wood has made a couple of secret trips to Sydney in the last few months would suggest that the RFL are keen to give it a go. The lack of leaks from that side of the operation could be interpreted as encouraging evidence that the famously discreet Bennett, who would surely have been England's first-choice old head, has been tempted to complete the full set of major international league teams. "We always wanted a really strong number two to sit behind Butch and the great thing about Sam is that he gives us real options, being able to play at full-back as well as fly-half and inside centre. "There has been lots of speculation about Butch but he has two years to run on his contract with us. "He would love to play for South Africa again and we believe he can do that from here. That's the situation and that's how it stands." Earlier this season, Blofeld – who joined Bath in September – described the precariousness of assembling a squad as akin to a "house of cards". But with the signing of two Leicester stars in the space of a month, firm foundations are being laid for the 2010-2011 push. "We are delighted to have got two such high-calibre England internationals who have experience of winning the Premiership and the Heineken Cup to come to Bath. Hopefully some of their achievements will rub off on us. "Leicester have set the benchmark in the past but we want Bath to become the benchmark club of the future." That is not to say they would be bad appointments. McNamara has long been rated a coach of great potential by both Smith, who moved quickly to appoint him as an assistant and therefore potential successor when he took on the England job in 2007, and by his elder brother Brian, formerly of Bradford and Hull, and now with the Sydney Roosters. Among the band of current players who are out of contract at the end of the season is wing Joe Maddock. Bath have offered a deal to the New Zealander and expect the 31-year-old, who has other non-Premiership offers on the table, to make his decision by the end of next week.
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