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Will Carpenter


Posted Tuesday, December 4th 2018

La Rochelle press in brief: five things we learned

Assistant coach, Conor McPhillips and back, Mat Protheroe faced the media ahead of Saturday's European Challenge Cup clash with La Rochelle at Ashton Gate - here's what we learned from this week's press session.

Business as usual

Conor McPhillips insisted Bristol Bears wouldn't be getting carried away following Saturday's bonus-point victory over Leicester Tigers at Ashton Gate. 

“For us, we’re delighted that we got the win, but when we got back to it on Monday, it was business as usual,” he said.

“We’re pretty focused on where we want to be, so like any game, we’ll review the stuff that went well and there are still plenty of work-ons for us."

Return of the Mat

Mat Protheroe says he'll be ready and waiting when his opportunity for first team return arrives, having missed nearly 11 months with a knee injury. 

"It's a long season, so I'll hopefully get some opportunity as it progresses. When that chance does come, I'll be ready to take it.

"I experienced playing at Ashton Gate in front of our amazing supporters last season, so I can't wait for that chance to come around again."

Fresh legs

McPhillips revealed there would be changes to the side that played against Leicester Tigers, as Bristol look to freshen things up in Europe.

“The key thing is that some guys have come off a tough block of Premiership games and they’ll get their legs minded a little bit,” he said. “And we’ve got a good group of injured guys coming back into contention, so they’ve been reintegrated into training and will be up for selection."

Back in the game

After 323 days on the side lines, Mat Protheroe made his long-awaited return from injury against Harlequins ‘A’ in Sunday’s Premiership Rugby Shield clash at Clifton RFC.

Bristol Bears 'A' ran our 26-22 winners, with Protheroe starting and playing 40 minutes.

“It’s been a long road to recovery and a long time coming, and I just want to thank Rory Murray and his incredible medical team, as well as the S&C staff, for getting me back to where I am now.”

French connection

McPhillips believes La Rochelle 'aren’t your average French team’.

“They love to throw the ball around, they’ve got a good back three and half-backs, including Tawera Kerr-Barlow, who has played for the All Blacks.

“So, I think they are slightly different to your average French team. They’re still massive, but I think they play with a lot more ball in hand, so that is a big focus for us."

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