Lam expects plenty of entertainment as Bristol host Saints

Pat Lam expects more of the same when Saints come calling at Ashton Gate on Friday night.

By Tom Vickers
Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 4:41 pm
Updated Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 4:42 pm
Pat Lam

Fixtures between Saints and Lam's Bristol Bears side traditionally serve up plenty of entertainment.

And the Bears boss is not expecting that to change this week.

“Every year, it is always a good game,” Lam said.

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“They have been good games because both teams have got a great attitude to play good rugby, but it is one you have got to be very precise on because they can cause you a lot of damage.

“The last one was close, and it has always gone right down to the wire in the last three years.”

Bristol had lost four of their first five league games before earning back-to-back Gallagher Premiership wins against London Irish and Worcester Warriors.

The Bears currently sit 11th in the standings, six points behind fifth-placed Saints.

Both sides have seen their injury and availability issues ease this week with the return of international stars and rested first-team players.

But Bristol are set to remain without England prop Kyle Sinckler as he is on a rest week.

Scrum-half Harry Randall is likely to remain out, but Callum Sheedy is back from Wales duty while skipper Steven Luatua and lock Chris Vui both appear ready to return.

However, the likes of hooker Bryan Byrne, centre Semi Radradra and winger Siva Naulago are still on the injury list.

Lam said: “With a six-day turnaround from Worcester last week, to have a squad completely fresh and ready to go on Friday night is awesome and we have put a lot of work into our game.

“We have been training and doing work on our game which continues to evolve. We have been tidying up some bits and pieces which we needed to do.

“Going into this cup break we started to show the fruits of our labour, we got 10 points (from two bonus-point wins) now we have got Northampton and Gloucester before we go into the Champions Cup."

On team selection for this week, Lam added: "I always have selection headaches but there are a lot more boys back.

“By the time we hit the Champions Cup we will be fairly strong and have a lot more options.

“But performances have relieved the injury pressure. You look at John Hawkins, Sam Jeffries, Jake Kerr - there are a lot of boys who have played really well which has enabled us not to miss the other guys (Vui, Luatua and Byrne) so much and it also forces those guys to come back in form.

“If you look at the second row with John Hawkins now, we have got Joe Joyce, Dave Attwood, Chris Vui is coming back, there is a lot of competition.

“In the backrow Fitz Harding has been superb and Sam Jeffries as well so we haven’t missed Stevie (Luatua) being away so much apart from his captaincy.

“The more guys perform in the Bears way the more headaches I will have and the better it is for the club.”