Rugby / Bristol Bears

Bears prepare for start of new season with 17 senior players unavailable

By martin booth, Friday Nov 20, 2020

Just over a month since they lifted the European Challenge Cup in France, Bristol Bears are starting the new Premiership season with more than a full team of senior players unavailable.

Whether they are on international duty or recovering from injury, there are 17 men who Pat Lam is unable to call on to face Wasps on Sunday.

As a consequence, the director of rugby has been forced to select a very different squad for the visit to the Ricoh Arena than which played on that famous night in Aix-en-Provence.

Siale Piutau will skipper the side for the opening round clash, with Sam Bedlow to start at fly half for the first time for the Bears in the top flight and 19-year-old Tom Wilstead potentially making his competitive debut from the bench.

The Bears are without players including England trio Kyle Sinckler, Ben Earl and Max Malins and Welsh pair Callum Sheedy and Ioan Lloyd, but Lam believes it’s a prime opportunity for others.

Lam said: “For us, it’s about moving on to the next moment of inspiration. What we do daily here and what we can do throughout the whole season, and that’s why we’re excited to start again, and you couldn’t ask for a tougher game than Wasps away.

“We have set our goals for the campaign and have absolute clarity about what we want to achieve and what we expect of ourselves. That long road begins on Sunday at the Ricoh and we can’t wait to get started.”

Main photo: JMP

Read more: Bristol Bears’ Callum Sheedy makes Wales debut

Related articles