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Will Carpenter

Will Carpenter writes

Posted Tuesday, December 17th 2019

Hughes urges Bears to rise to the challenge

Nathan Hughes has urged Bristol Bears to rise the challenge when they travel to face reigning Gallagher Premiership champions, Saracens on Saturday (3pm KO).

Pat Lam’s side head into the game off the back of successive victories over Stade Francais in the Challenge Cup, but Hughes says the weekend’s clash at Allianz Park is one they will embrace.

“It’s a Test Match against a lot of internationals. Saracens, they’re back-to-back European champions, Premiership finalists year on year, it’s going to be a big encounter, a physical one and a quick-paced one.

“We’ve had a good start to the season, but we’re still building as a team and we’re not the finished product yet by any means.

“We’ve trained well today and yesterday, and it’s going to be a good one. The exciting thing is that we couldn’t ask for a better challenge than Saracens – they haven’t had the best start to the season so far, but I’m pretty sure that, back at home, they will want to put a marker down. If you’re going to get anything at Allianz Park, you’ve got to earn it.”

Not for the first time this season, Bristol rallied late on to seal victory over Stade Francais, and Hughes says the combination of belief and conditioning has contributed to some important results.

Hughes scores against London Irish (JMPUK).

“There is belief in this team, and we talk about it all the time – 23 playing as one Bristol Bears team.

“We’ve got everyone’s back, and that’s shown in the games that we’ve come back in and won in the final 10 minutes.

“Rugby is an 80-minute game and it’s not won in the first 20 minutes, it’s right down to the end. It’s all down to the coaches and the S&C staff – how they structured pre-season and conditioned us to perform. It was a long pre-season and it’s a longer season, so I think the way we’ve been conditioned is transferring on to the field.”

The number eight has made a barnstorming start to life at Ashton Gate, emerging as one the Premiership’s leading lights in the opening five rounds - and Hughes says he is enjoying life at the Bears.

“Credit to Pat (Lam) and the coaches, for using me in different areas of the game. “I’m enjoying my rugby, but the only thing I can do is keep improving and keep doing what I’m doing.

“I need to keep tweaking the little five and 10 percent aspects of my game, reviewing it and going from there.”


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