Bucharest Wolves v Bath Rugby: Ollie Devoto in line for Bath debut
Fly-half Ollie Devoto will make his first start for Bath when they kick off their Amlin Challenge Cup campaign against Bucharest Wolves today.
The 19-year-old Academy fly-half has appeared as a replacement in the Aviva Premiership against Wasps and Gloucester so far this season and is one of six players making their first starts for Bath in European competition.
Devoto is joined in the half-backs by Mark McMillan, with Ben Williams, Will Skuse, Will Spencer and Anthony Perenise completing the half-dozen.
Tom Biggs and Olly Woodburn start out wide, with Williams joined in the centre by Jack Cuthbert. The versatile Sam Vesty, who started last weekend’s defeat against Gloucester at inside centre, lines up at full-back.
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Perenise packs down in the front row alongside Nathan Catt and Ross Batty, while Spencer joins Dave Attwood in the engine room. Skuse completes the pack at number eight, with Guy Mercer and captain-for-the-day Ben Skirving on the flanks.
Vesty knows Bath will be made to pay of they take Bucharest Wolves too lightly.
Bath face a side formed from the best players within their domestic league brought together specifically for European competition.
Although anything other than an away victory would be a massive surprise, turning up expecting an easy ride will be disastrous for Bath.
“We won’t be making out that it’s going to be easy because it’s not,” said 30-year-old Vesty. “Three of Bucharest’s biggest games of the year will be in this competition. They are going to be massively up for it.
“They will be big heavy, guys and it’ll be a real forward battle. We’ll obviously have a better skill set but if we don’t turn up with the right attitude we’ll be on the back foot.
“I’ve never been to Bucharest and that’s what part of this competition is about. You get to see how developing teams go about their rugby.
“It’s important for them because this is a line to getting bigger. If they start doing well in this competition and maybe get into the Heineken Cup, Romanian rugby gets better and world rugby gets better.
“At the end of the day, though, for us this competition is a source of silverware and if we win it we are in the Heineken Cup next year as well.
“But to win this competition you’ve got to beat some very good teams. There’s Top 14 teams, good English teams and when you come to the knockout stages you get Heineken Cup sides dropping down as well.”
Having only been handed his first start of the season during last Saturday’s defeat against Gloucester, Vesty can expect a extended run of games on the continent.
“Getting on the pitch is what you train for,” said Vesty. “If I get a run of games and some good performances under my belt we’ll see where I am in a few weeks’ time.
“It has been frustrating but I’ve spoken to the coaches and they’ve given me reasons and things to work on. I’ve gone away and done that.
“I’ve been given a shot and that’s all I can ask for. It’s cut-throat but when opportunities arise.”
Bath away to Bucharest Wolves today, 1pm BST: Sam Vesty; Olly Woodburn, Jack Cuthbert, Ben Williams, Tom Biggs; 10 Ollie Devoto, Mark McMillan; Nathan Catt, Ross Batty, Anthony Perenise, Will Spencer, Dave Attwood, Ben Skirving (capt), Guy Mercer, Will Skuse. Reps: Brett Sharman, Charlie Beech, Kane Palma-Newport, Dominic Day, Francois Louw, Chris Cook, Kyle Eastmond, Nick Abendanon.