Danny Cipriani’s arrival on an extended one-year contract will move Bath closer to winning silverware, according to director of rugby Stuart Hooper.
Cipriani will arrive at the Recreation Ground in May and while available for the closing stages of the current campaign, his priority will be shaping the attack for next season.
The 2019 players’ player of the year departed Gloucester by mutual consent in December and after a short break from the game, has signed for his fourth Gallagher Premiership club.
And while he will act as Bath’s first choice fly-half when Rhys Priestland joins Cardiff at the end of the season, he will also be entrusted with nurturing emerging talent such as 19-year-old playmaker Orlando Bailey.
“We’ve watched lots of Danny’s games, watched him live many times. I’ve played against him and also met with him. He’s been on the radar for a long time,” Hooper said.
“His skill set has been evident to see across all the different teams he’s played for. To compliment what we’ve got and develop what we’ve got, he’s absolutely the right person for us now.
“The experience side of it was really important for us. If you look at the demographic of our squad, we’ve brought the age down considerably over the last three years. It’s important there’s age, yes, but experience as well.
“Whenever we recruit someone in a key position – 10 being one of them – I always see part of their role is a legacy effect. How can they make people around them better?
“That is what I see in Danny and he has the opportunity to come in and do the same with some of our young players.
“I very much see him as being part of the next step of the journey. The next way we develop our game.
“We believe it’s the right decision to allow us to go on and win trophies, but it’s not one thing alone that makes it work, it’s everything working together.”
Cipriani won the last of his 16 England caps in 2018 and alongside Owen Farrell and George Ford, he is one of only three fly-halves to have played under Eddie Jones.
The 33-year-old oversaw Gloucester’s attack during his two-year stint at Kingsholm and although earning rave reviews for his vision and creativity, Jones was never fully convinced.
Bath captain and England second row Charlie Ewels is an admirer, however, after touring South Africa alongside Cipriani with the Saxons in 2016. Ewels rejects Cipriani’s reputation as a disruptive influence in a team environment.
“I like how he attacks, how he sees things. A lot of us know him and have played with or against him, so it will be exciting to work with him,” Ewels said.
“When you’re younger you hear all these stories about other players. I’d heard a lot of stories about Gavin Henson before he showed up. Then I met Gav and it completely changed my opinion of him.
“On that Saxons tour I was 21 but Danny was brilliant and he was good to me, I leaned a lot off him.
“You can hear the stories or read what’s written in the paper, but until I’ve been with someone day-in, day-out and worked with them, that’s when I’ll form my opinion. And I think Danny is a good pro.”