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IN-DEPTH: Actions Speak Louder Than Words For Family Man Jack Lam

Jack Lam speaks with a softness that seems almost unimaginable to those who have only seen and not heard him, while he hits with the power and ferocity of a runaway train.

A giant on the field, but a gentleman off of it; it’s these traits that have seen the Samoan international make a huge impact during his three-year tenure at the club - and there’s plenty more where that came from, with Lam this week committing his immediate future to a club and city he now calls ‘a home away from home’.

A promotion and a Championship player of the year award perfectly illustrate the flanker’s on-field influence, but away from the spotlight – where Lam is most comfortable – is arguably where some of his biggest footprints lie.

In the lead up to Christmas, Lam took his family to visit Children’s Hospice South West and it’s a tale that gives a fascinating insight into the values and outlook of Bristol Rugby’s current club captain.

COMMITTED: Club captain Jack Lam has extended his contract until 2019 (JMP UK).

“It’s always rewarding to give something back to the community – or in this situation, the hospice,” says Lam. “And not just for me, I took my family along and it was eye opening for them.

“I just think it’s a massive thing for us, as players and as key role models, to give back to the community.

“It was quite an eye-opening experience for the kids. We told them that they weren’t going to have any Christmas presents and that this year we were actually going to give presents to the kids at the hospice who needed them more than they do.

“The lesson behind it was for them to appreciate everything that they have and for them to see and meet the children at the hospice – it wasn’t just eye-opening for them, but also for my partner and myself as well. It was a massive learning experience for all of us.

“They were really devastated when we told them about the presents and were actually quite standoffish and stayed in their rooms for the first couple of days leading up to Christmas – but once they understood, they really appreciated the reason why we were sending the presents to those kids and we gave them out during our visit.

“In the end we gave our children presents as well, but they didn’t come downstairs on Christmas Day expecting anything. We had actually set up the tree while they were asleep, they were ecstatic after that.”

"I’ve got some unfinished business here and I want to take the club forwards. Pat’s vision, it’s really exciting and with the calibre of players that have been signed for next season, I really want to be a part of that.”

Jack Lam

Lam has developed a strong affiliation with the children’s hospice, in the same way he has with the Bristol supporters. He feels settled here and more importantly, so does his family.

Upping sticks and moving nearly 12,000 miles across the globe was a daunting task for the Lam family but one made easier by the west country welcome he was afforded.

Three years on and Bristol is ticking all of the boxes for Lam – and long may that continue.

“At first, the move was a bit daunting for my children but now they’re really settled here. At the moment they are having some time with family back home in New Zealand but they actually want to come back straight away – they’ve asked me when they can come back because they’re missing their friends at school.

“Everyone here is so welcoming. When I first got here I was quite a shy kind of person, but the boys here were really welcoming and the environment here was awesome.

“The city itself, it’s quite laid back but also has a really good vibe about it.

“The appetite for rugby here is massive. I didn’t expect it at all, knowing that the UK is predominantly football, but here in Bristol, rugby is right up there and you can see how passionate the fans are."

“Every time you’re playing at Ashton Gate the fans are there in good voice – and even away from home, they follow us all over the country. It just goes to show how awesome our supporters are.”

Lam’s power and resolve in contrast to his calm and serene off-field demeanor has helped make the Samoan a fan’s favourite at Ashton Gate. With another Lam - Pat - set to take the reins this summer, the 29-year-old has set his sights on taking care of what he calls ‘unfinished business’.

“To be honest, I had to do a bit of thinking but at the end of the day it was quite an easy decision to sign a new contract,” he says.

 “I had to think about the family – they’re really settled – and from a rugby perspective, I’ve got some unfinished business here and I want to take the club forwards."

“I’m not very good with words, as all the boys know, and even though I’ve known them for three years I still get really shy when I have to stand up and speak in front of them. It’s still quite daunting for me."

Jack Lam

“Pat’s vision, when we’ve spoken a couple of times on the phone, it’s really exciting and with the calibre of players that have been signed for next season, I really want to be a part of that.”

However big the name, teammates will always look to Lam for direction and leadership - and the former Hurricane admits it’s not something that comes naturally. That being said, his role as club captain this season looks the perfect fit, even if it has pushed him outside of his comfort zone.

“Being club captain of Bristol is a huge, huge honour,” he says. “When you look at the players who have gone before me, the likes of David Lemi, who did it last season, you start to understand just how big an honour it is.

“It’s been a huge learning curve; I’ve learned a lot about myself as a person and enjoyed the responsibility that comes with it."

POWER: Jack Lam puts in a huge hit on Bath's David Denton during a 12-11 victory (JMP UK).

“I’m not very good with words, as all the boys know, and even though I’ve known them for three years I still get really shy when I have to stand up and speak in front of them. It’s still quite daunting for me.

“I’m the kind of person who won’t say too much but will try and lead through my actions.”

After all, actions speak louder than words and for Jack Lam that rings true either side of the whitewash. With Bristol’s talisman now committed to at least two more years at Ashton Gate, there’s more than enough time to take care of his unfinished business.

By Will Carpenter.

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