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Carl Fearns: French leave will ease my frustration

Carl FearnsCarl Fearns admits Bath’s decision to move Sam Burgess into their back row contributed to his decision accept a shock summer move to France.

But the combative Liverpudlian insists he quit the Premiership for all the right reasons and that his ambitions of representing England remain alive despite the fact he will

initially be plying his trade in the second tier of French rugby with Lyon.

Fearns featured in 20 Premiership matches for Bath last season, but started just seven and ended the season playing second fiddle to Rugby League convert Burgess, prompting him to accept a surprise opportunity to sample pastures new.

He told The Rugby Paper: “It was a very competitive squad at Bath and I’m not someone who’s afraid of fighting for his position. But I wasn’t getting as many starts as I wanted and with Sam moving into the back row it got a bit frustrating.

“I was coming off the bench most games, playing 20-30 minutes and, in my opinion, having an impact. But I felt I was good enough to be a Premiership starter and it wasn’t happening, so the opportunity to move to France was a good one.

“It happened pretty quickly after the season ended and while some people have six months to prepare, I had just three weeks. It was quite stressful but I’ve got an apartment in the centre of Lyon and my family are with me and loving it.

Fearns added: “I’m excited by the opportunity. I’m 26 now and have had eight seasons playing in the Premiership. My kids are at a young age to do the move without affecting them, so if I could have two good years here that would be great.

“I could come back to England after that and I still believe I’m good enough to play international rugby. James Haskell played in France and then went back and won an England place, so why can’t I?

“You can’t really predict what will happen in two years and, who knows, I might want to stay in France like my old Sale teammate Andrew Sheridan. But my intention is to get back into the Premiership and fight for an England place.”

Lyon were relegated from the Top 14 last season but Fearns joins an impressive array of talent as they look to bounce back at the first attempt.

He explained: “Lyon have made other good signings and we have a lot of players with real pedigree like Julien Bonnaire, David Attoub, Napolioni Nalaga and Jacques-Louis Potgeiter.

“It’s an impressive club with a new stadium so they’ve got big ambitions. Although I’ll be playing in Pro D2 to start, hopefully it will be for just one season and I can get a good crack at the Top 14.

“Sebastien Bruno, who I was with at Sale, is forwards coach and Dave Ellis does our defence so we’ve got a good set-up. I’m starting to pick up the language and take lessons twice a week.”

Bath’s league finish improved in each of Fearns’ four years at the Rec. He added: “It was hugely disappointing to lose the final to Saracens but the club is in a better place than it was.

“I always gave 100 per cent so I can hold my head up. I think Bath will contend more now and go one step further.”

MATT LLOYD

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