Bristol better placed now than under Andy Robinson
BRISTOL No.8 Jordan Crane believes Pat Lam’s newly-promoted side are better equipped to tackle the Premiership now than they were under Andy Robinson two years ago.
Bristol’s last foray into the Premiership in 2016/17 ended miserably when, in Crane’s first season at the club after joining from Leicester, they managed just three wins and were relegated back to the Championship after finishing 13 points behind Worcester.
However, with marquee signings Charles Piutau and John Afoa, along with 16 other new faces, joining existing Test class players in Steven Luatua, Luke Morahan, Ian Madigan and Jack Lam, Crane insists there is little prospect of a humiliating repeat. Crane told The Rugby
Paper: “Last time Bristol had been out of the Premiership for eight years so a lot of guys had not had the experience, but if you look at the signings we’ve made and the guys we’ve already got, there’s a lot more reasons we will cope.
“The Premiership’s relentless but signings like Piutau and Afoa speak for themselves and we’ll be going in with a positive attitude. We’ll just need to get those 18 signings up to speed quickly to give us the best opportunity of staying up there.”
Of Lam’s impact since arriving from Connacht last summer, Crane added: “He’s been excellent. He’s brought a real culture to the group and we’re a lot tighter than we were.
“He’s brought in a good game plan that everyone backs and I think we’re in a better situation to make sure we get the points to survive in the Premiership and then flourish.”
One man Crane expects to shine in Bristol colours is diminutive Leicester hooker Harry Thacker, whose all-action style suits a free-flowing game.
Crane said: “Harry’s a great signing with the way we want to play. He’s not had much chance at Leicester because he’s not a big front rower like Tatafu Polota-Nau or Tom Youngs, but he’ll fit in brilliantly.
“Those guys can lock down a scrum and be physical around the park, whereas ‘Thacks’ can do the scrum and line-out stuff but his X-factor is the exciting way he plays. He wouldn’t look out of place at centre the way he beats men with his footwork.
“There was plenty of competition for his signature, he just needs a bit of faith shown in him now and a good run of games. I’m certain he’ll add lots of value to our team.”
Crane, 31, is relishing a return to top-flight rugby 13 years after making his Premiership debut for Leeds against Wasps in 2005. He added: “It’s been a long career but I feel I’ve still got a lot of good years left and being part of what Pat’s building here is exciting.
“We set standards high and while we’ve not always been pleased with our performances this season, we’ll improve to stack up in the Premiership.”
Old-stager: Jordan Crane