BATH RUGBY: Banahan’s tribute to ace Abendanon

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Matt Banahan Matt Banahan

MATT Banahan will watch another one of his long-serving teammates fly the Bath nest this summer, but the departure of Nick Abendanon will be a reminder of just how far the club has moved on.

Abendanon’s departure at the end of the season – he will join French side Clermont-Auvergne it was confirmed this week – will leave Banahan as the only member of the club’s 2008 Amlin Challenge Cup-winning squad still at the Rec.

Banahan made his 150th appearance for Bath in Europe against Italian side Mogliano in December but while his teammate will seek a new challenge, he believes the full-back will be remembered fondly at the Rec.

“I’m obviously disappointed. It’s been eight good years with Bendy and we’re the only two left from the squad that won the Amlin Challenge Cup back in the day,’’ said Banahan.

“I’m sad to see him go but rugby is about opportunities and it takes you around the world.

“Bendy now wants a different challenge and he’ll be going down to Clermont Auvergne and playing a different style of rugby.

“We all wish him the best of luck because he won’t be going away from Bath disliked. Hopefully he’ll get to 200 games before the season and become a legend for the club.’’

Banahan signed an extended contract with Bath in late 2012 and he added: “I’ve just got to say thanks to the club and the supporters for sticking by me because a lot of the time, people like to bounce to different clubs.

“Fortunately enough, I’ve been at this club for a long time now. I don’t have any options to go anywhere else and this club’s going the right way so I want to be a part of that.’’

Backs Kyle Eastmond and Olly Woodburn and prop Kane Palma-Newport also agreed extended deals with the club this week.

Meanwhile, Banahan saluted the players who stepped up in the absence of the club’s internationals during last week’s stand-out win at Leicester.

Ollie Devoto turned in a try-scoring performance at fly-half while Banahan formed a centre partnership with Wales and British Lions star Gavin Henson.

“Especially with losing a lot of boys to international call-ups and only having one back on the bench, all the boys that have come in have performed well,’’ he said.

“It was Ollie Devoto’s first start at ten and he stood up to be counted. It’s what he’s done all year and his performance wasn’t a fluke. “It was quite nice to be in the midfield with Gav (Henson) and Devo because I thought we worked quite well together.

“We thought that we might have to grind out a result because the weather wasn’t the best, but we showed that we’re talented and skilled enough to play a good style of rugby and win convincingly.’’

“As a team, I think we’re just scratching the surface at the moment. We’re still striving to learn and to get to where we want to be.

“We’ve put ourselves in a good position for this maximum of 18 games left until the end of the season so all we can do is keep performing the way we are.’’

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