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Will Carpenter

Will Carpenter writes

Posted Tuesday, October 6th 2020

Enter the Dragon: Sheedy and Lloyd on Wales call-ups

It was during a morning gym session that the news filtered through at Bears HQ that Callum Sheedy and Ioan Lloyd had been named in Wayne Pivac’s 38-man Wales squad for the Autumn international campaign.

In the closing stages of an already record-breaking season for the club, Sheedy and Lloyd become the first Bristol players since Jason Hobson in 2008 to be named in a full home international squad.

And with the Gallagher Premiership play-offs and a European Challenge Cup final to look forward to, the playmaking pair, who have both enjoyed impressive campaigns in Bears colours, are relishing their first taste of international rugby.

“It feels a bit surreal,” says Sheedy. “I feel really proud and can’t wait to get going.

“Pat (Lam) talks a lot about international standards and being world class – and obviously I don’t know what the international setup is going to be like, but as far as what Pat drives here, it’s as close to international as I can imagine.”

For Lloyd, who only signed his first professional contract in the summer of 2019, it caps a quite astonishing breakthrough season – and the 19-year-old admits he is still processing the news.

“It’s a dream come true to get the call up,” he says. “I’m just really excited to get in there now and see what it’s all about. I was pretty much in shock when I found out, I wasn’t expecting it at all. It’s taken me the last hour or so to try and process it all and I still need to speak to my parents. I’m very excited and can’t wait to get going.  

“Going into camp is going to be a bit of a shock, seeing all of the boys I have watched growing up, playing for both for Wales and the Lions. It’s going to be a bit surreal at first, but I can’t wait to get in and learn off of them.”

Sheedy has been on a journey with the club since signing his first Academy contract in the summer of 2014 – and after a play-off final defeat, two promotions and a relegation, the fly half has thrived under the leadership of Director of Rugby, Pat Lam and credits the current coaching team and some former teammates for his rise up the ranks in recent season.

“It feels like so long ago when I was 18 or 19 and working with Nicky Robinson, Adrian Jarvis, Gavin Henson – these guys have been great mentors. But working with Ian Madigan over the last few years, he’s been absolutely unbelievable for me. I think he took my game to another level – the competitive edge he brought to training, the way he drove me on.

“Mads, along with Pat and Conor McPhillips, Sean Marsden, Bruce Reihana last year, without them and their input, I don’t think I’d be anywhere near an international call-up, so I owe a hell of a lot to those guys.”

Lloyd made his mark in the Gallagher Premiership with a memorable league debut, scoring against Bath on the opening day of the season as the Bears thrashed their local rivals in front of a sold-out Ashton Gate crowd. Two weeks later, he was at it again, this time with the winning try against Sale Sharks to round off a whirlwind month for the teenager.

Lloyd, who represented Wales U20 earlier in the year, admits he is learning on the job and benefitting hugely from the examples being set by his teammates – including the man he will join in the Wales squad ahead of a jam-packed Autumn schedule.

“So much has changed in the last year,” says Lloyd. “It sounds obvious, but the professional game is so different to school rugby.

“From watching all of the boys here at Bristol, one thing I’ve learned about being a professional is that it’s a lifestyle – it’s not just what you do when you’re at the ground. All of the boys here are so committed all of the time – you can see that people are going home and doing their analysis, doing their prep, boys are in at all hours.

“It doesn’t matter what time you get to the club in the morning, there’s always someone here before you – it’s usually Sheedo. If boys feel they need to do extras or more prep in the morning, they’re here doing yoga, or stretching, or getting treatment.”

It’s that level of commitment that has seen both Lloyd and Sheedy flourish in Pat Lam’s ambitious side – and although the international programme is just on the horizon, Sheedy insists his current focus is on winning silverware for the Bears.

“I’m really looking forward to getting started with Wales and what is to come very soon, but for now, we’ve got two trophies to win before we move on to international camp in a few weeks.”


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