Western Daily Press

Lam tight-lipped on Bears injury list ahead of derby

- JOHN EVELY john.evely@reachplc.com

YOU can feel the intensity around derby week is building in the Bristol Bears camp. The most talkative, communicat­ive director of rugby in the Gallagher Premiershi­p, Pat Lam, was being uncharacte­ristically cagey over the injury status of his key players in midweek.

Having said after the 20-12 defeat to Exeter Chiefs last month he was expecting a host of players back available for Saturday’s trip to The Rec to take on Bath Rugby, the Bears boss did not reveal any of them when he spoke to the press yesterday.

The key man Bristol are waiting on is Welsh internatio­nal fly-half Callum Sheedy who suffered nerve damage from a late no-arms hit against Newcastle Falcons on April 17 which caused him to lose some feeling down one arm.

Discussing Sheedy, who is very much the conductor to the deadly orchestra of attacking options in the backline, Lam said: “He is back. He has done a lot of work with the rehabbers and we will see how he goes this week as to whether he is going to be right or not.”

In Sheedy’s absence England internatio­nal full-back Max Malins wore the 10 jersey against Chiefs but was well shackled by the defending champions’ defence, while Welsh internatio­nal Ioan Lloyd replaced him at Kingston Park when the injury occurred in one of his best performanc­es for the club at stand-off.

If Sheedy is not available to face Bath both Malins and Lloyd will be in competitio­n to start again.

Lam said: “The beauty with our game is it is not all about the 10, the midfielder­s are important.

“It is about having time in the saddle, which Callum has had.

“Both Max and Ioan are 15s who can play 10, so they are both good players and we are fortunate to have them.”

Fijian superstar Semi Radradra is expected to return from the ankle injury he picked up against Bordeaux-Begles on April 4 to wear the 13 shirt at The Rec opposite former England centre Jonathan Joseph.

Lam previously said the Fijian would have been available to play last weekend had the Bears had a game.

Discussing, Radradra, Lam said: “We are hoping for him as well.

“A lot of the work this week is making a decision around guys medically and physically to make sure they are ready to go this week.

“We will see how we get through the week.”

With Bristol still eight points clear of Exeter at the top of the table, and 11 clear of third place Sale Sharks, Lam does not need to force players back before they are ready.

In another boost to the backline, flying winger Siva Naulago should be fit to face Bath having taken part in the warm-up against Exeter after recovering from a knee issue.

Bristol suffered for a lack of a defence-breaking ball carrier in the backrow against Chiefs with England internatio­nals Nathan Hughes and Ben Earl both sidelined with undisclose­d injuries.

Asked whether they are in contention to play in the derby, Lam replied: “We are hoping. We will see how they go this week.

“Again guys who had rehab last week are training so hopefully.”

Lam revealed his side has been focusing on the breakdown since the turnoverfe­st against Chiefs and expects improvemen­ts this weekend despite Bath’s world-class backrow of Sam Underhill, Taulupe Faletau and Zach Mercer being a real strength of the side.

He said: “Against Exeter, our last game, I was really pleased with how physical we were, our mindset was excellent, but we got a few things technicall­y wrong, certainly at the breakdown. It is an area we put a lot of work into yesterday, but I cannot fault the effort.

“There were a few things not quite right, we ended up playing with a lot of ball from deep in our half and there were lineout problems.

“But we showed up, we got a few things technicall­y wrong which we will sort, and that has been a good focus this week.”

 ?? Picture: Dan Mullan/Getty Images ?? Pat Lam, Bristol Bears’ director of rugby
Picture: Dan Mullan/Getty Images Pat Lam, Bristol Bears’ director of rugby

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