Rugby Union

Josh McNally: Bath Move 'An Opportunity To Learn'

RAF rugby union star Josh McNally says he is ready for the "step-up" ahead of his first season with Premiership side Bath.

McNally captained London Irish to promotion last term but had agreed to leave the club in January.

The Air Force player is training with his new team ahead of the new season and is looking forward to the challenge at Bath.

"It’s been really good," he said.

"I’ve settled in really well. I’ll be honest though: it’s been pretty tough.

“They really want to break the mould now for what Bath have been over the past few years.

"It’s been nice to be around and there is no better place than this to train.

“I think Stuart Hooper [Director of Rugby] has come in with a real vision of the club and where we want to go.

"Bath have been around the mid-table over the last few years and there’s a real drive with the club that we want to take Bath to bigger and better places."

McNally enjoyed a successful season with Irish, being named RFU Championship Player of the Year, but he wanted to continue climbing in his career.

“We have a lot of different aspirations than probably London Irish have so in that respect, it does feel like a step-up," he said.

"It’s one I am willing to jump into."

McNally was captain for London Irish and was sad to leave.
McNally was captain for London Irish and was sad to leave, but the new opportunities at Bath were too good to pass up.

Due to the Rugby World Cup starting in Japan in September, the regular season has been delayed which means a longer pre-season.

McNally says this has led to some difficulties: "We are getting to that stage now where mentally, everyone is finding it pretty challenging.

"In previous years, you would be playing pre-season games now but because of the World Cup and the delay in the fixtures, you are looking at five or six weeks before you play a game.

"We are finding it a bit niggly and difficult to battle through, but the coaches here make it different, so it doesn’t feel boring."

McNally has joined Bath to further his career but has a short-term goal to achieve during the beginning of his time at the club.

"I think there is such an opportunity to learn here," he said.

“When these guys come back from the World Cup, there is even more people to learn from.

“All you have to do is walk around Bath and you see what rugby means to this city.

"People keep talking about international rugby but at the moment, I just want to be part of Bath and go on this journey they are on. We will see from there.”

McNally has been a major part of the RAF’s team for the past few years, even winning the Air Force’s Sportsman of the Year.

He thinks the talent in the forces will rise to the top.

“I think we have always said that there is a massive military presence around.

“There is a massive wealth of talent within the military. It is just about trying to get these people into these opportunities and taking them.

“There’s a handful of players that you could put into this environment from all three services and they would do really well.”

Josh McNally
Corporal Josh McNally (right) was crowned the RAF Sportsman of the Year for 2018.

McNally’s Air Force team suffered back-to-back defeats at this year’s Inter Services competition which was a shock to the players.

“It was a pretty tough year to take," he said.

“It was the first time in a long time that we went in as champions and favourites but I don’t think we handled it well.

“There’s a whole host of different things that you could say went wrong, but on the day, it didn’t come through.”

Bath's first fixture of the season is in the Premiership Rugby Cup, away to Exeter Chiefs.