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Smith signing 'a major coup' - Lam

Pat Lam has hailed the signing of Wallabies legend, George Smith as ‘a major coup’, as his newly-promoted side target a strong start to life in the Gallagher Premiership.

The 111-cap Australia international arrives in BS3 on a six-month deal - bringing with him an abundance of experience and a reputation as one of the game’s greatest ever players - and Lam believes Smith will have an immense impact both on and off the field.

“I think if you look at every single team he has been with and every competition he has played in, he has been a huge success,” said the head coach.

“The way that he plays, the way that he conducts himself on and off the field - it’s not only about what he will bring to the team on the field, but it’s what he’s going to bring to the next generation coming through.

“Dan Thomas, Jake Heenan, Sam Graham, and the other back rowers and players are going to be able to pick his brains.

“The thing that excites me is that, having talked to him, he wants to make a difference with these guys as well.

“I think the breakdown is a huge part of the game and he’s one of the best exponents of it in attack and defence. I’m so excited to have him on board.”

Smith’s arrival provides Lam with exceptional - and much-needed - cover in the back-row, with injuries to Dan Thomas and Sam Graham ruling them out of the opening rounds of the Gallagher Premiership campaign. And with new arrival Jake Heenan continuing his recovery from shoulder surgery, and Jack Lam’s international commitments with Samoa, Smith – who played for Wasps from 2015-2016 – will be a vital acquisition for Lam when the 2018/19 season gets under way.

“Dan Thomas and Sam Graham will both miss the start of the season, Jake Heenan is coming back from a long-term shoulder injury and Jack Lam will be on international duty in November, so to have someone of George’s experience to fill that hole and get us going at the start of the season is going to be huge for our competition,” said Lam.

“I was watching the Reds play the Waratahs recently and he played 80 minutes and I watched him, in the heat of the battle, off the ball, organising and driving a young Reds team forward.

George Smith during his time at Wasps (JMP UK).

“The way that he plays the game suits how we want to play. He comes up with turnovers at important times and he’s a great link player with the ball. He’s a fantastic defender and all-round, this is a major coup for the Bristol Bears and it’s going to have a huge impact on the way we start.

“I think the thing I liked the most, when I spoke to him, is how hungry he is to come here. He had offers to go elsewhere, but he loves our vision and he loves what we’re doing.

“He knows myself, he knows some of the other key players in the team, he played with the Piutau boys at Wasps, and he’s really excited to be part of the journey and have an impact here.

“George has had some experiences with some great coaches and played with some unbelievable players, so I’m excited at the impact he will have for the Bristol Bears.”

Follow George Smith and the Bristol Bears in the 2018/19 Gallagher Premiership season by clicking here.


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