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Warburton backs Priestland to challenge Ford at Bath Rugby

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Rhys Priestland will switch the Scarlets for Bath Rugby this autumn and Wales captain Sam Warburton expects the move to work wonders for the fly-half.

In the last 18 months Priestland has lost his Wales No.10 shirt to the ever-impressive Dan Biggar while facing growing competition at Parc y Scarlets from the likes of Steve Shingler.

In an attempt to freshen things up, the 28-year-old will arrive in Aviva Premiership Rugby at the Rec next season to provide England fly-half George Ford with some competition.

And while the task of dethroning Bath’s diminutive talisman appears a stiff one, Warburton expects his Wales teammate to cause him a few headaches next season.

“Bath are a great club,” said Warburton, who was speaking ahead of Land Rover recruiting two official Rugby World Cup 2015 mascots at a beach rugby festival on Barry Island on Saturday July 4.

“With the facilities they have got, they are on the way up and with someone like Rhys, the better the players you put him with, the better he plays.

“He has been a great servant for the Scarlets for a while now and he would be a great addition to any squad. I am sure Rhys will add a lot to Bath and it will be a great battle for the No.10 shirt.”

However, in the short-term Warburton has warned Priestland to be wary of the likes of Matthew Morgan, Rhys Patchell and Gareth Anscombe, as they battle for places in Warren Gatland’s 31-man World Cup squad.

“From my experience in the 2011 World Cup there are players who might have been on the fringe of the squad at this stage but they worked their way into the World Cup,” he said.

“Everybody has got an opportunity. The coaches are very much of the opinion that if you are in form, then you will be given a crack. If you are good enough, then you are old enough.”

Whoever does make the squad faces a tough test come September, with Wales lining up in Pool A alongside England, Australia, Fiji and Uruguay.

And while their clash with the Red Rose at Twickenham is already getting the juices flowing, Warburton is adamant revenge is not on the brain following England's Six Nations win in Cardiff earlier this year.

He added: “It is a tough pool but we are going to have to beat sides like that if we want to win it anyway. England will be one of the highest-profile games that any of us will be involved in.

“Games go back and forth, you win some and you lose some but because it’s Wales-England it will always have a massive amount of expectation from both sets of fans. You don’t need much to get very excited for that game.”

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