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Will Carpenter

Will Carpenter writes

Posted Thursday, November 28th 2019

Press bitesize: London Irish (h) - Gallagher Premiership

Director of Rugby, Pat Lam and back-row, Steven Luatua faced the media ahead of Sunday's Gallagher Premiership clash with London Irish.


Case for the defence

Steven Luatua says Bristol's defensive work will be key when London Irish visit Ashton Gate on Sunday (3pm KO).

The back row, who praised his side's display at Brive in the Challenge Cup, says the Bears will face a stern test this weekend. 

“I think, in fairness, London Irish have come up from the Championship and done everything we did last year, so it’s so far, so good for them.

“They’ve got a strong pack and some pretty classy backs, so it’s going to be a huge challenge for us this weekend but we’re looking forward to hopefully stepping up to another level as a team.

“Hopefully, if the weather is any good, we’ll play an exciting brand of rugby, but so far, the record at home is intact and we’ve grown an arm and a leg with the support we’ve had, which has been phenomenal.

“So, hopefully we can keep that going and get another win. We want to go back to back with performances with really big defensive sets. In the long run, defence wins Championships.

“If we can put on a good defensive showing against an attacking threat like London Irish, then it will stand us in good stead. Not only that, it just gives us a bit more freedom when we’ve got the ball in hand and we can attack better.”


Building momentum

Director of Rugby Lam urged Bristol Bears to build on their 'positive momentum' against the Exiles.

“We’ve built some positive momentum in the Premiership and Challenge Cup, but we’re ultimately judged on our performance, so Sunday is a massive game for us to continue the good work so far," he said.

“We know what a well-coached and good side London Irish are, they’re a different beast this year because of the quality of Declan Kidney and Les Kiss.

"They will be a big threat and we have to be ready and prepared for another physical battle at Ashton Gate in front of another big crowd.”


Incoming!

Lam also hailed the signing of Semi Radradra as a 'huge statement' from the club, after the Fijian megastar was announced as a Bears player from next season.

Radradra arrives on a three-year deal from Bordeaux-Begles, and the Director of Rugby says he will have a big impact at Ashton Gate.

“It’s no secret, what we plan to be, what we’re trying to do, and the growth we’ve made over these years. The team this year is better than last year’s team, so my role is to grow the group coming through, but when you’re going to add in quality and value, he’s going to bring that.

“It’s a big statement from us, but I know he’ll add value to us, not only on the field, which is obvious, but off the field.

“The things that he will be able to do, similar to what Charles (Piutau), Steven (Luatua), John (Afoa), Nathan (Hughes) have been able to do, all of these boys, he’ll help bring that next group through. And to have him for three years, it’s exciting.

“I’ve been in a lot of competitions around the world, but the Gallagher Premiership is, I believe, the toughest and best in the world. To be that, you need the best players and there’s no doubt, there are some absolutely quality players in this Premiership.

“So, to bring one of the best in the world to the Premiership, it adds value not only to us, but to our competition. Players want to play against the best, so bringing him here is great for the Premiership.”


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