As Bath Rugby have developed into a title-challenging force, Ross Batty has grown into a key cog at The Rec – and he is desperate to continue along that path.
Batty arrived in Bath from Rotherham Titans in 2010, making just four Aviva Premiership Rugby appearances off the bench in his debut season.
However, the hooker has grown in influence at the club since then and last season featured 20 times in the competition, 11 of them wearing the No.2 shirt.
With England international Rob Webber as competition that achievement is not to be taken lightly, but Batty won’t rest on his laurels when the new campaign gets underway.
“It was a good year,” reflected the 28-year-old. “I played a lot of rugby and that’s what it is all about. I signed again last year and I want to put my hand up and I want to be running out at The Rec.
“Webbs is a great player and he is with the England boys and I want to put my hands up and do the business. You are not happy if you’re sitting on the bench and I certainly wouldn’t be happy with that.
“I was in a good bit of form and the coaches picked me a lot. When you get the chance you don’t want to drop the ball, so to speak.
“I want to keep going. If I had a good season, then didn’t really produce the following year I wouldn’t be happy with myself. It’s a challenge I’m relishing and the team should be in fantastic shape when we get there.”
Bath are already back in pre-season training and Batty has the opportunity to impress early on, with Webber away at England’s pre-World Cup training camp.
However, the Tyneside-born forward is not just thinking about his own personal ambitions.
Mike Ford’s men fell narrowly short of lifting the Aviva Premiership Rugby trophy last season, beaten by Saracens in the final at Twickenham – and Batty knows what is next on the agenda.
“It was a massively disappointing finish and a really tough one to take,” he added.
“With everything being on that game there was a lot at stake but you have got to take your hat off to Saracens. They did the job on the day.
“We are taking steps in the right direction but with the talent we have got here, we know where we want to be. With the squad we have got, we don’t want excuses.
“We make sure we work our backsides off in pre-season and in training and last season was proof of the calibre and strength in depth that we have.
“That’s where we want to get to but there’s a damn lot of hard work to put in before we start thinking about that. We are looking forward to the challenge ahead.”