London Irish: Joe Cokanasiga to join Bath on season-long loan

England will join Bath Rugby next season after London Irish were relegated from the Premiership. Ben Hoskins/Getty Images

England tourist Joe Cokanasiga is to join Bath on a season-long loan from relegated London Irish and will be the first of a number of players given the chance to continue playing in the Aviva Premiership while the club battles to regain its top-flight status.

Irish, who finish their campaign at Bath on Saturday, are already resigned to losing Alex Lewington and Tom Woolstencroft to Saracens and Ben Franks to Northampton, while Johnny Williams has agreed to join Newcastle.

In a bid to ensure the squad does not dissipate any further, the club wants to follow the lead of Newcastle who loaned out players when they were relegated. Talks are currently underway with other squad players who could be allowed to leave on deals to mirror the one Cokanasiga will operate under at Bath.

Irish started the process this season with a short-term loan deal which took Scotland flanker Blair Cowan to Saracens and he returned to the exiles to face the Champions Cup holders last weekend.

Brian Facer, the Irish CEO told ESPN that budgets are in place for a two-year strategy. He explained: "When Newcastle were relegated they did a very clever thing in loaning out some of their top players so that when they came back into the Premiership they had a good squad in place.

"We have to do that kind of thing and we are having those discussions with key players who have options in their contracts at the moment."

Facer confirmed that chairman and owner Mick Crossan will continue funding the club while still talking to potential investors as he seeks around £10 million to help with the club's plan to halt the yo-yoing between the top flight and Championship.

"That process is being carried out by Mick and the consortium," Facer added. "There are interested parties and agreements do take a long time to reach but there is good progress. Anyone who comes in will enhance what we are planning."