James feeling ‘Butch’ at Bath

Bath’s new star signing Butch James is hoping for a repeat performance at fly-half for his adopted club when they tackle Overmach Parma at the Recreation Ground on Saturday.

The South African number ten marked his Bath debut in an opening 28-6 European Challenge Cup win against Auch with a man-of-the-match performance, despite spending less than a week at his new club.

James is enjoying a winning run in France – but now the World Cup fly-half is keen to notch up his first “home” win in Round Two of the European tournament.

“It has all been a bit crazy, finishing the World Cup, getting myself packed up and finally over to Bath,” said James

“I only arrived at the club at the beginning of the week, but I have trained and worked hard to get a feel for the way we play and what is needed of me. So to have been able to play in the first round was great for me.

“The guys have really welcomed me and I feel I have fitted in pretty well.”

The former Sharks pivot scored a try on debut for his new club, a site that Butch James fans don’t see too often with the majority of the 28-year-old’s points coming from his boot.

“It was good to get into things nice and early on, and scoring a try – I don’t score many of those – was really great,” said the World Cup winner.

“I didn’t know too much about the European Challenge Cup until I signed with Bath, then I started looking at the teams who are in it and, as soon as I arrived, I could see straight away that it’s really important to the guys.”

Bath, winners of the Heineken Cup in 1997/98, failed to beat French outfit Clermont in last season’s European Challenge Cup final and the English club will be hoping to make amends this time round.

James will no doubt be looked upon for his all-round skills to help guide his new club to their first European Challenge Cup title, which will automatically book them a place into the tournament’s big brother – the Heineken Cup – next season.

“I know that last year the boys made it to the final and that’s certainly an aim for us again this year,” said James.

“We should believe we can come through this Pool and hopefully get a home quarter-final which would be great.”

Renowned for his accurate goal-kicking, visionary distribution and ferocious defence, James is considered not only an energetic fly-half, but also an inspirational team player – an asset that will be welcomed by his new fans.

“Now I am really looking forward to playing my first game at the Rec. I’ve heard a lot about the match day atmosphere and it will be great to be able to play in front of even more Bath fans,” said James.

“There were a good number in Auch and they certainly made themselves heard.

“My immediate goal is to train hard this week and hopefully get myself into the side for Saturday’s game. We had a strong game against Auch but there are things I know I want to work on for this weekend.”

James’ experience and physicality will no doubt provide the team with more certainty and opportunity in a Pool that also includes French side Albi who are currently topping the group.

His presence is set to help contribute towards Bath being a more dangerous team in attack that coach Steve Meehan believes will contribute to more try bonus points being scored which is what separates them from Albi.

But James is not looking too far ahead and is focusing all his attention to this weekend’s match against a team he has never faced.

“We will no doubt be doing some analysis in the run-up to the game against Overmach and obviously they are a side I have not played against,” said James.

“However, they have a few Italian internationals in their squad and Manoa Vosawai played in the World Cup so he could be a threat in the back row.

“And you can never under-estimate the Italians.

“More than anything I’m looking forward to a weeken

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