JOSH McNally’s stellar season helping London Irish win the Greene King IPA Championship has earned him a move to Premiership powerhouse Bath, where he hopes to force his way into the England squad.

The 28-year-old lock captained the Exiles to 20 wins and 99 points as they earned a return to the top tier of English rugby.

He announced he would make the move to The Rec and join Bath at the turn of the year.

McNally follows in the footsteps of England internationals Jonathan Joseph, Anthony Watson and Joe Cokanasiga to move West from London Irish – and he hopes to emulate them and wear the Red Rose of his country soon.

He got a taste when he was called up to an England training squad before a game against the Barbarians last May and admits it left him thirsty for more.

“Ever since I played in the Premiership, I realised if you can establish yourself in that league it’s not too far away,” McNally said.

“That door got firmly shut when we got relegated, but my main focus now is just to get into that Bath squad and establish myself in the Premiership where I feel I belong.

“As long as I do everything I can within my control we’ll see what happens, but like anyone playing in the Premiership, their aspirations are to play for the national side and I’m no different.”

McNally’s outstanding season was recognised at The Rugby Paper Awards, where he was named Shock Doctor Championship Player of the Year.

He was one of a dozen rugby figures, from the Gallagher Premiership to the grassroots game, recognised at the awards.

McNally got the nod as he captained Irish to their second promotion in the past three seasons – as they bounced back from relegation.

The lock, formerly Royal Air Force weapons technician before becoming a professional player, admitted he departs London Irish with a heavy heart but feels he leaves the club in a good place.

“I was obviously gutted we got relegated last year and I really wanted to prove we were good enough to be back in the Premiership,” he said.

“To be given the responsibility to captain the side was one I was willing to jump into and I thought I did a good enough job all year.

“It was a club I loved being a part of, but when a club like Bath come knocking there was no other answer than yes.

“It’s a club that’s been on mine and my wife’s dream list for the last four or five years – we’d love to settle down there, grow a family and play good rugby.”

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