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Author

Tom Tainton

writes

Posted Thursday, October 17th 2019

Team news: Bristol Bears vs Bath Rugby

Bristol Bears play host to local rivals Bath in the Gallagher Premiership curtain raiser on Friday night in front of a stadium record attendance at Ashton Gate (7.45pm KO).

  • Charles Piutau and Luke Morahan return to line-up
  • Alapati Leiua and Chris Vui back in squad after Rugby World Cup
  • Premiership debut for Nathan Hughes in a Bears jersey
  • Ioan Lloyd could become youngest player to represent the club in Premiership

26,399 supporters will flock to BS3 and Director of Rugby Pat Lam is boosted by the return of two of his key players, as Luke Morahan and Charles Piutau are both named to start.

After two man of the match performances and three tries in the Premiership Cup, Mat Protheroe earns a spot in the backline.

Bears select four homegrown players in the starting line-up, as Joe Joyce, Dave Attwood, Callum Sheedy and Andy Uren are all selected, while fellow Bristolian Yann Thomas is among the replacements.

“These are the sort of occasions you relish as a coach and as a player and it’s a game we’ve been targeting and building towards over a long and relentless pre-season."

Director of Rugby, Pat Lam

“These are the sort of occasions you relish as a coach and as a player and it’s a game we’ve been targeting and building towards over a long and relentless pre-season,” said Lam.

“There’s no better way to start the season than with a local derby and in front of a record crowd at Ashton Gate. The atmosphere and energy will be electric and we know we will have to bring the focus and intensity to get the job done and start the season with a big performance.

“We’ve got 94% availability and that’s down to the excellent planning and preparation from our medical and strength & conditioning team. It’s been a productive pre-season and now we have to ensure we capitalise on Friday and celebrate that hard work.”

Samoan international duo Chris Vui and Alapati Leiua are included in the 23-man squad following their return from the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Highly rated Academy talent Ioan Lloyd - who recently penned a new four year deal - could become the youngest player to represent Bristol in the Premiership, and the third youngest player in league games, if he features from the bench.

Bristol Bears team to face Bath Rugby at Ashton Gate on Friday, October 18th (7.45pm KO):

15. Charles Piutau; 14. Luke Morahan, 13. Piers O’Conor, 12. Will Hurrell, 11. Mat Protheroe; 10. Callum Sheedy, 9. Andy Uren; 1. Jake Woolmore, 2. Harry Thacker, 3. John Afoa, 4. Dave Attwood, 5. Joe Joyce, 6. Steven Luatua (c), 7. Dan Thomas, 8. Nathan Hughes.

Replacements: 16. Shaun Malton, 17. Yann Thomas, 18. Max Lahiff, 19. Chris Vui, 20. Jake Heenan, 21. Harry Randall, 22. Ioan Lloyd, 23. Alapati Leiua.

Unavailable: Jake Armstrong (thumb), Tom Lindsay (hamstring), Jordan Crane (back), Blake Boyland (ankle).