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Will Carpenter


Posted Thursday, November 14th 2019

Press bitesize: Zebre (h) - European Challenge Cup

Director of Rugby, Pat Lam and wing, Toby Fricker faced the media ahead of Saturday's European Challenge Cup pool opener against Zebre at Ashton Gate.

Champions Cup mentality

Pat Lam says Bristol Bears will approaching the Challenge Cup with a Champions Cup mentality, as they set about ensuring they are in Europe's premier competition next season.

"With our attention turning to Europe, we’ve talked about it as a group and set out a goal that we want to win the Challenge Cup, and we also set out a goal that if we’re going to be in the Champions Cup, I decided we need to make sure that we’re in it now, with the mentality that we’re in it now. 

"So, last year we decided we wanted to give a lot of people games, particularly our EQP numbers – but this is all about approaching this like we’re playing in the Champions Cup.

"The strongest possible team, taking away injuries and taking away niggles, because we have two short turnarounds, so it’s making sure the balance of the squad is right, but certainly, everyone having to earn their place to be in the team."

Foot on the pedal

Toby Fricker has urged Bristol Bears to transfer the momentum of last weekend’s dramatic victory at Sandy Park into Saturday’s Challenge Cup opener against Zebre at Ashton Gate.

“Everyone is obviously very happy after the result, but the mood is generally the same,” he said.

“Everyone realises that it’s a long old season, and just because we’re switching into Europe now, it doesn’t mean we take the foot off the pedal.

“We need to keep going strong and not take anything for granted. We’ve got to keep putting in the hours of work on these rainy days.

“Everything is about a winning mentality, whatever the competition, it’s about getting the job done. The approach for us is to carry on where we left off last weekend. We want to build on it and kick on again.

“The focus and desire are exactly the same, we want to keep that momentum. What we’ve spoken about this week is that you’ve got to respect every game at this level.”

Just the beginning

Lam also urged his players to kick on from a promising start to the new season, sitting top of the Gallagher Premiership after the first block of league fixtures. 

"We're very pleased with the first block of games. To finish top of the tree is a great reward for the effort that staff, and players have put in during pre-season and leading up to it, but we also know that it’s just the start – there’s a lot of work still to continue.

"Of course, on the weekend, it was a huge effort, so I'm very pleased."