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Author

Will Carpenter

writes

Posted Tuesday, November 12th 2019

Sam Jeffries relishing secondment opportunity

Sam Jeffries makes no secret of the fact that, in an ideal world, he’d be fighting for his place in the Bristol Bears squad.

But, after a frustrating 12 months out with a knee injury, the 26-year-old has begun a break from the professional game as he targets a full recovery, instead embarking on a secondment into the club’s backroom staff.

Jeffries takes on the role of Professional Development Manager (PDM), sourcing and organising opportunities for the players and staff away from the pitch, and admits he is grateful to the club and Director of Rugby, Pat Lam, for the opportunity.

“I had been struggling with injuries for nearly all of last season and I wasn't making the progress I was hoping for with my rehab,” he said.

“Pat and I both knew I was a long way off being ready to compete in the Premiership and that time to let my body heal was what I needed. It was fortunate that Pat had been looking to add the role of PDM to the organisation and that he saw the value it would add.

“Thankfully, he saw the opportunity as a good role for myself and offered me the role with the opportunity to come back to play should my body recover.

“This role really puts an emphasis on growing the players’ and staff’s work off the field, so that when they transition, they are better equipped. We are running this through a player development programme that will support players through their off-field development and also hopefully grow the connection between the club and businesses and institutions in and around the city.

“We hope to provide each of the individuals with the right skills and opportunities to make a successful transition out of rugby when they retire. My fitness is a waiting game and it would be great to be back playing again next year, but I have to listen to my body and make sure that I'll be ready to go when the time is right.

“I’m super grateful for the opportunity. It highlights how the club really values player welfare in both my own case and in how this role will support the players.”

Now one month into his new role, Jeffries says the transition from player to management has been a smooth one.

“It’s been pretty seamless to be honest. Thankfully, working closely with (Team Manager) Nick Fenton-wells, who has also recently transitioned, has helped and all the staff have been very welcoming.

“Fortunately, as the role is a new position, I've been very busy putting into place lots of the plans for the role, so I’ve been put to work straight away.

“It’s taking a bit of adjusting to not be training at such an intensity anymore but still being around the squad and staff is great.”

Director of Rugby, Lam, insists the door is open for Jeffries return to the playing squad if he can recover from his current setback, and also praised his character and suitability for the role.

“Sam (Jeffries) and I had a really honest discussion and we wanted to offer him an opportunity to stay in the environment and still be part of the Bears journey,” said Lam.

“He is an excellent character who has faced a really difficult time with injury. He is a long way off being ready to play Premiership Rugby, but our culture is about togetherness, love and developing people on and off the field.

“It would have been easy to let Sam go, but we know what value he can bring to the environment and we have a responsibility of care to the individual. Sam will take on a professional development role – providing the link between our staff and their off-field requirements.

“There’s evidence in the past of previous players who have recovered from these sorts of injuries by taking time away from the game – Juan Smith is an excellent example. We will leave the door open for Sam to return to the playing squad if that situation presents itself. He’ll continue to rehabilitate, and we will monitor his progress.”