The Real Deal?

Some exciting news for England and this time a Sam could actually be the real deal!

Here’s why – this is from the Bath Chronicle site from earlier today –

Sam Underhill has become the latest Bath Rugby signing, with the promising young back-rower set to join up with the Blue, Black and Whites next season.

But what do we know about Todd Blackadder’s newest acquisition? Here’s everything you need to know about Underhill’s journey from obscurity to potential England international.

Underhill has long been touted as a future star and captained the England under-18s side during his time in the Gloucester academy, leading them to an unbeaten season and the FIRA/AER title.

He played twice for the Cherry and Whites, making his debut in the LV=Cup during the 2013/14 season, before coming off the bench for his Premiership debut against Bath at the end of 2015.

Underhill then swapped Gloucester for Bridgend and was initially placed with the Ravens to play at semi-professional level alongside his studies.

However, his rapid progress since moving over the border resulted in him joining Ospreys, where he has gone from strength to strength.

He has made 24 appearances for the Pro12 outfit, but missed a large chunk of games at the start of the season after undergoing surgery on a high grade AC joint injury.

Despite Underhill repeatedly expressing his desire to play for England at international level, there has previously been speculation that he could play for Wales.

Although has no immediate Welsh parentage, Underhill could have qualified for Wales had he remained at Ospreys next season under the three-year residency rule.

His decision to play in Wales meant he was previously unavailable for England selection due to the RFU policy of only selecting players who are plying their trade in the country.

However, his move to Bath now means he will be available to England head coach Eddie Jones, who has previously expressed interest in taking a closer look at the flanker.

Here’s what Underhill said last year about whether he would consider playing for Wales.

“I have grown up in England. Apart from this season I have only ever played rugby in England.

“Without being in any way arrogant or ahead of myself, my ambition is to play for England. It’s an emotional link.”

There’s a reason why Wales were so keen to test the water with Underhill. Here is South Wales Evening Post rugby writer Mark Orders on why he is so highly-rated across the border…

“It is an early contender for understatement of the year to suggest Bath have bagged themselves an outstanding prospect in Sam Underhill.

“At 20 he isn’t the finished article. Of course he isn’t. But he has all the raw materials to become a top player quickly.

“Physically he is already some proposition. Standing 6ft 1in and weighing 16st 3lb he is built for the back row and when he tackles a player that player stays hit.

“The youngster is also a quality operator at the breakdown, as you would expect from a player who has spent the past season and a half learning off Justin Tipuric.

“He doesn’t have Tipuric’s range of skills – who else does have those? – but Underhill is a serious player who gets the openside job done.

“He is, assuredly, a terrific young player.”

For Bath fans interested in what Underhill will bring to the West Country side next season, there is a legendary story about an encounter with Jamie Roberts.

During Ospreys’ training session with Wales last year, Roberts apparently came charging at the then 19-year-old in one of his famous bulldozing runs.

However, he was stopped dead in his tracks by Underhill, who carried Roberts backwards and dumped him on his backside, prompting the watching Sam Warburton to ask “who is that guy?”

Underhill’s decision to leave his contract with Ospreys a season early means he will likely complete his economics degree remotely or by changing universities.

Now he has joined the Blue, Black and Whites – for a reported transfer fee of £150,000 – he will also finally be available for England selection next summer.

He will link up with Blackadder and the rest of the Bath squad next season and could potentially be selected for England’s two-Test summer tour of Argentina.

That will be a big boost to Red Rose boss Jones, who has relied on James Haskell, Teimana Harrison and Tom Wood to fill the openside role.

Let’s hope that this time, this Sam really is the great white shirt hope!

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