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Beware of Bath
Former Wasps chief backing The Rec club to bounce back
Former Wasps director of rugby Ian McGeechan is tipping Bath to have an "impact" on the Guinness Premiership title this season.
Bath have endured a close season of turmoil with Justin Harrison leaving the club and being subsequently banned for taking cocaine, while Andrew Higgins, Michael Lipman and Alex Crockett were found guilty by a RFU disciplinary panel of two charges of conduct prejudicial to the interests of the game.
Higgins has subsequently quit the game, while Lipman and Crockett, who resigned from Bath on June 1, are appealing the ban.
But despite the off-field distractions, McGeechan is expecting the club to put things behind them once the season starts.
And the former Lions boss believes that the Premiership is so tight this year any of the top teams could win the title.
McGeechan told the Sky Sports magazine: "The Premiership is very competitive. It was proven last season that you can go right down the table and find a potential champion. Everyone can beat everybody else each weekend.
"London Irish have come through strongly, Harlequins have talent, Wasps won't be far away, Leicester are a team I've always had a great deal of respect for, Gloucester have been consistent, it will be interesting to see what Saracens do with new players coming in and Sale are re-grouping.
"I thought Bath played some very good rugby last year but they find it hard to sustain a challenge for the whole season. But I do think Bath will have an impact on what happens this year.
"It's going to be a challenge for the young players at London Irish and Harlequins because they have to avoid the second season syndrome. People will be waiting for them this year and that's where character comes in - you have to show it because you're not going to surprise anyone any more.
"There is a real spread of teams who will be competitive. Even Northampton hardly ever lose at home so if they can improve their away record they could be knocking at the door."