By Neale Harvey
Pent-up prop Nick Auterac has launched a broadside at the Bath coaches he claims were wrong to label him ‘selfish’ as he aims to reignite his career at Harlequins.
Auterac played a major role in helping Bath reach the 2015 Premiership final following a move from Saracens. However, perceptions of laziness clouded his final two seasons at the Rec following a biceps injury that blighted his 2016-17 campaign.
Auterac, who will now compete with England’s Joe Marler for the No.1 jersey at the Stoop, says he lost respect for Bath rugby director Todd Blackadder and the rest of his coaching team after they accused him of swinging the lead.
The 25-year-old told TRP candidly: “Things turned to s**t towards the end at Bath and I just couldn’t recover from perceptions the coaches had of me.
“The problem started with my injuries. I tore a bicep the season before last and took quite a long time to come back, so there was a perception I wasn’t trying, was selfish and didn’t want to play – all words the coaches used, which made me lose a lot of respect for them.
“Another perception was that because I’m a bit introverted and didn’t talk a lot at meetings when I was out injured, I didn’t care about that either. A lot of injured boys get involved in analysis and lead meetings, but that’s just not me really.”
Auterac explained: “I’m someone who’s happy to be told what to do; if someone tells me, ‘do this or do that’, I’d much rather do that than have the onus put on me. That way I feel trusted, which is why when Neal Hatley was at Bath things went really well.
“He knew I was an introvert and so he didn’t get me to try and lead, he just told me everything he wanted me to do and I did it to the best of my ability.
“‘Hats had left for England so when I came into my fourth season at Bath last year and Beno Obano came in and kicked-on, the writing was on the wall.
“I got only one Premiership start and was mainly on the bench, so when you do get on you snap at things knowing you need a new contract. You over-think stuff in the week and work yourself up, so I was overtired and performed badly.
“As soon as Bath told me they weren’t keeping me it was actually a huge weight off my shoulders, and I feel fortunate that Quins came in so quickly.”
Having escaped his Bath nightmare, Auterac has his sights on ousting Marler and earning a regular starting spot at Quins.
“It’s not just Joe, there’s Lewis Boyce and Mark Lambert too and I’m under no illusions that it’s going to be easy,” says Auterac, “But part of the attraction of Quins is knowing I’ll have to be at the top of my game to have a shout of achieving my goals.
“One of those goals is playing for England and I’m going to have to work very hard to do that, but this is a fresh start and mentally and physically I feel good.
“Last year was a wasted season but now I feel I have a lot of built-up emotion and a lot of points to prove, so I’m looking forward to really kicking-on again.”
Auterac is equally delighted to be linking up again with head of rugby Paul Gustard and forwards coach Alex Codling, having worked with both.
“I worked with ‘Gussy’ in the academy at Saracens, and as an 18-year-old I spent time at Barking, where ‘Codders’ was head coach and we nearly made the Championship. I’ve never known a more anal man at lineouts than Alex – not even Steve Borthwick – but he knows how to build a pack of forwards and he’ll do well here.
“It didn’t go brilliantly for Quins last season, but with new management coming in that will create extra competition with guys wanting to impress.”