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We must be at our best for Hartpury clash - Lam

  • 'Tough pre-season the perfect preparation for Championship campaign'
  • 'Hartpury are well coached and well drilled, they've got a strong culture'
  • 'The biggest respect we can pay Hartpury is to be at our best'
  • Captain will be selected from starting XV each week

Pat Lam insists Bristol Rugby must be at their best when Hartpury visit Ashton Gate on Sunday (3pm).

Bristol take on John Barnes’ newly promoted side in the opening game of the new season – and the head coach says his players can expect a stern test at BS3.

“We’re obviously excited by this week’s game and the season officially starting. We were very pleased with pre-season, four tough games that tested us in different things so we could find out where we are.

“Hartpury have got a strong culture, they’ve been doing well for many years. They're well coached and well drilled and they’ve had a plan they’ve been building towards. This is the biggest game in their history, but our focus has to be on what we do and the things we want to achieve on Sunday.

“The biggest respect we can pay Hartpury is to be at our best.”

Lam also revealed that he wouldn’t be appointing a permanent captain for the forthcoming season, with the role being determined, each week, by the starting fifteen.

“The biggest respect we can pay Hartpury is to be at our best.”

Pat Lam

“As far as captaincy goes, this year the way I look at it is that I’m getting to know these guys,” he said.

“We have a strong leadership group that runs the team and we’ve got an alignment group which is around our game, so I’ve made a decision that we’re going to name the strongest possible team every week and then I’ll select a captain on the back of that.”

Following yesterday’s injury update from the treatment room, the head coach said he hopes to have ‘an influx of players’ returning in the near future.

“There are a few injuries, but the good thing about it is that they are all going to be back over the next few weeks,” he said.

“So we’re going to get an influx of players back and that depth is going to be crucial as we get going with the A League.

“But all in all, pretty excited, happy and looking forward to the season.”