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Will Carpenter

Will Carpenter writes

Posted Friday, November 20th 2020

'Bears relishing huge challenge at the Ricoh' - Lam

Pat Lam has called on his side to rise to the challenge when they face ‘bogey side’ Wasps in Sunday’s 2020/21 Gallagher Premiership season opener at the Ricoh Arena.

The Bears have lost their last five league clashes against the 2019/20 losing finalists, including a play-off semi-final defeat in October, but the Director of Rugby insists they will be out to turn the tables this weekend.

'Turning the tables'

“Wasps have been a real bogey side for us,” said Lam. “We’ve played them four times in the Premiership – five if you count the semi-final – and we’ve lost all of them. They are a tough side and we’ve had moments in games against them, that we should have won but we let slip, and they are a really tenacious side – they keep coming at you right through and just when you think you might have a strong foothold in the game, it can be taken away from you.

“We understand that, and that’s the challenge for all of us as a group, to rise and see if we can turn that around.”

The Bears will be without England trio Kyle Sinckler, Ben Earl and Max Malins and Welsh pair Callum Sheedy and Ioan Lloyd, as well as nine other senior players through injury. But Lam believes it’s a prime opportunity for others to stake their claim ahead of another jam-packed season.

“The more successful we are, the more players that will be involved in international rugby, which is fantastic. Also, the way game is and how physical it is and what we all sign up to, players are going to be injured, and that’s what we talk about, which is why we have our Integrated Academy guys, our homegrown players coming through and training side-by-side with the seasoned pros and these world class players.

'A tough test'

“So, they are not only learning from them, but more importantly, learning the culture, learning the game, learning our Bears systems, so that when they get an opportunity, it’s not about that individual playing for himself, it’s about him playing for the club and playing for our community, and stepping up and getting the job done.

“If we do that, that’s what is going to make us stronger and stronger as a team.”

The Bears’ last outing saw the club lift its maiden European title with a 32-19 victory over Toulon in Aix-en-Provence – and Lam has urged his side to build on this success.

“Winning a trophy was a great reward for the club and everyone involved in the club and the work that we’ve done,” he said.

“We talk about our vision of inspiring the community through rugby success – that was a clear moment, but it’s a moment in time and history and it’s something we can look back on.

“But now, 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.”


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