Abendanon wants to bow out in style

Blackpool Citizen: Bath full-back Nick Abendanon, centre, will leave the west country club at the end of the season Bath full-back Nick Abendanon, centre, will leave the west country club at the end of the season

Nick Abendanon hopes to sign off in style as Bath enter the final month of a season that could see them win domestic and European silverware.

Bath face a dress rehearsal for the Amlin Challenge Cup final when they host Northampton on Friday night.

Victory over second-placed Saints would consolidate Bath's place in the Aviva Premiership play-off zone ahead of their final regular season fixture against Harlequins next week.

"No matter what happens, I can certainly say that I have had a great time at Bath and have really enjoyed my time here," said England international full-back Abendanon, who will play for French club Clermont Auvergne next term.

"So there is no need for me to try and end on a high, but having said that I would love nothing more than to end with silverware.

"This is such a great club and it is well set up to have success, and everyone at the club is determined to get Bath back to the top.

"We have the Amlin Challenge Cup final to look forward to, and now we have to make sure we get into the top four (of the Premiership)."

Abendanon has also been enthused by some of the young talent that has shone for Bath this term, players like fly-half George Ford and full-back/wing Anthony Watson.

"George Ford is the best fly-half at his age that I have ever seen. He is a 35-year-old in an 18-year-old's body," Abendanon added.

"Anthony Watson has been great for us. He is fast and direct and is a real asset to have at the back.

"Credit to the coaches, as they have dealt with them really well, and I am excited to see what they can both do in the future."

Bath captain Stuart Hooper will make his 200th Premiership appearance when Northampton arrive at the Recreation Ground.

Hooper will be partnered in the second-row by Dave Attwood, while Carl Fearns replaces injured blindside flanker Matt Garvey. Ollie Devoto and Jonathan Joseph forge Bath's midfield combination.

Wales wing George North misses out for the Saints due to injury, with rugby director Jim Mallinder making five changes from the side that beat Challenge Cup semi-final opponents Harlequins last Friday.

Ben Foden, Ken Pisi and Luther Burrell are all called up, together with lock Courtney Lawes and flanker Tom Wood, who captains the team.

Victory for Northampton in the west country would confirm a home Premiership play-off later this month - possibly against Bath - while a bonus point victory for Bath would guarantee a last-four place.

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