Bath Rugby have unearthed a rough diamond in Nick Auterac, according to forwards coach Neal Hatley.
The 23-year-old loosehead prop arrived at the Rec from Saracens in the summer of 2014 with just one Aviva Premiership Rugby start to his name.
He added eight last season, as well as 15 off the replacements’ bench, in something of a breakthrough season as Bath reached the Twickenham Final.
Now, after featuring in all four league games so far this season and catching the eye in European victory over Leinster on Saturday, Hatley can afford to be pleased with his acquisition.
“I have watched him since he was 16 or 17, playing in the Saracens age groups,” he recalled.
“It was an opportunity to bring him to the club, which I insisted happened. He is one of those players who just needed an opportunity and we have provided that.
“They were reluctant to let him go and didn’t want that to happen but sometimes, for whatever reason, guys don’t get an opportunity at the club they are from.
“What was so impressive for us was that he was doing it off the bench last year and then towards the end of the season as a starter as well. For him to churn out a performance like that against Mike Ross, an experienced international, is fantastic.
“We always knew he would be a rough diamond. He is an absolute beast physically, so there is a good base to build on. I knew what was there and what he was capable of.”
On the other side of the front row Henry Thomas also impressed against Leinster, as competition for places in the Bath pack continues to intensify.
That competition has only increased with the addition of Scotland No.8 David Denton, while England lock Dave Attwood signed a new contract this week and Wales second row Luke Charteris agreed to join the club ahead of next season.
Hatley is pleased with the balance he is building up front at the Rec – and how it will complement one of the most exciting young back lines in Aviva Premiership Rugby.
“Adding the balance of someone like Luke Charteris is very important,” he continued.
“When you look at the age of our squad – George Ford, Anthony Watson, Jonathan Joseph, Henry Thomas – a lot of these guys are pretty young, so people like Luke Charteris add a lot of experience.
“And David Denton gives us great flexibility as a genuine six, seven or eight. He is a big man, who carries that ball very effectively.
“With what we have got, Leroy Houston has probably been our only out-and-out eight and has played basically every single game for the last two seasons. To have that flexibility to call on is going to be brilliant.”
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