Speaking in response to comments made by Bristol Bears prop Kyle Sinckler, Pat Lam said that he is excited by what is to come. Sinckler said that moving club during lockdown and being unable to see his family has made him feel he is operating at 20%.
Given that leaves for a five-fold improvement that should leave all other players quaking in their boots. David Challis caught up with Lam and the Bristol camp ahead of the visit of Worcester this weekend. Lam provides an injury update, his reaction to the impending return of fans and his admiration of another tighthead prop in John Afoa.
Good news on the injury front
Last week Lam noted a number of key stars away with injury and on international duty. With Malins and Earl retained by England but the possibility of some stars returning from Wales, the squad begins to look a bit thicker for Lam.
On the injury front Nathan Hughes, Andy Uren and Mitch Eadie have all trained and look in line for selection. More worryingly Chris Vui was pictured in a cast on social media, however, Lam gave an assurance that this was simply precautionary.
The final Ashton Gate game without fans
This weekend though Bristol will have to take on a Worcester side Ashton gate which Lam noted are “always tough”.
Despite defeating Worcester twice last year Lam noted they are “a team that we have struggled with”.
“he [Alan Solomons] always gets them pumped for us”
Lam chuckled that Worcester always seems to be up for a game against the Bears. He quipped that perhaps Solomons, a coach Lam admires greatly, had something to do with this.
An Embarrassment of Riches at Tight-head
After Sinckler made his comments earlier in the week you would be forgiven for thinking the front row was an issue for Bristol and Pat Lam. However, Lam was quick to come to the aid of his prop.
When asked about Sinckler’s comments he cut a surprised figure. He said, “that’s pretty exciting because I’ve been pretty happy with what he’s done”.
He went onto state that Sinckler is “getting better and better”. However, ever the care Lam noted “I’m just glad he’s enjoying himself here” and that the rest of the side gets on well with their new signing.
Often crossing paths with Sinckler as one leaves the field and the other enters is veteran prop John Afoa. The ex-New Zealand international is vastly experience with many beginning to write off the 37-year-old.
Lam believes that his experience is invaluable, however, asking interviewers to “just name another prop who’s played as many games”.
Speaking glowingly about Afoa he said, “a lot of our growth can be attributed to the impact John makes around the guys”.
Afoa has set up and leads a mentorship programme at the club to help his younger teammates. He aims to use his experience for the betterment of those around him and the team as a whole.
Knowing his side needs to bounce back quickly if they are to make a run for the top four this year Lam will need all of that experience at the weekend. At home, Bristol must be slight favourites even with a growing injury list and international departures. A young Bears side, however, will make for a tantalizing prospect.
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