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Adeolokun one of three short-term Bristol deals upgraded to one-year contracts

(Pic by INPHO via EPCR)

A trio of players who signed short-term contracts at Bristol for the conclusion of the 2019/20 Gallagher Premiership have been rewarded by Pat Lam as Niyi Adeolokun, Tom Kessell and Peter McCabe have all now signed one-year contracts to stay on with the Bears.

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Scrum-half Kessell (two appearances) and wing Adeolokun (four appearances) both featured in the Challenge Cup final win over Toulon in Aix-en-Provence last month, while prop McCabe made three appearances in the Gallagher Premiership, scoring his maiden try for the club against Wasps at the Ricoh Arena.

Director of rugby Lam said: “All three of these guys have settled into the Bears culture well and made some positive contributions on the field, so we’re pleased to have them on board for the 2020/21 campaign.

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“With another busy schedule ahead of us, and players set to be away on international duty or undergoing rehabilitation at the beginning of the new season, it’s important to ensure we have plenty of depth and cover in key positions.”

It was on August 27 following a costly Premiership defeat to eventual champions Exeter that Lam called for some reinforcements as injuries at that time to Jake Armstrong (ankle), Max Lahiff (head) and John Afoa (calf) had lightened their front row resources while wing Toby Fricker (groin) was also unavailable.

That Bristol casualty list left Lam on the lookout for short-term cover and of the players brought in, one was already very familiar to the coach as Adeolokun was part of the Connacht team that won the 2016 Guinness PRO12 with Lam at the helm prior to his 2017 move to England.  

Adeolokun, who went on to be capped by Ireland on Lam’s watch and also play for the Barbarians when the Samoan was in charge, was released by Connacht during the recent lockdown.

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J
Jon 2 hours ago
British & Irish Lions free agent open to Super Rugby switch

There are a couple of teams who could use a stop gap experienced head. Blues - I’m not sure the Blues have signed a replacement for Caleb Tangitau (if he hasn’t been let go to make room for Barrett) yet, or whether Reiko is going on sabbatical and/or will remain in the squad. With exciting young French player Xavi Taele looking destined for higher honors in black, talented breakthrough rookie Cory Evan’s, and a couple of utilities, in AJ Lam and Bryce Heem(even Clarke?), all trying to learn the midfield trade, Williams could be a great aid. The Blues signed key English center Joe Marchant before he was raised to that level, and were possibly in the hunt to bring back the dependable Tele’a from the Highlanders. Possible the main squeeze which would put to bed any signing here would be the battle at 10 with Beauden’s return, and the forcing of Plummer back into the midfield. Hurricanes - Jordie Barrett is off to Leinster for a sabbatical next year but the more likely signing would be Billy’s brother back in the team. The Hurricanes are light on the outside with the loss of Salesi Rayasi to the Top 14 and if no quality is found to back up Kini Naholo, the midfield of Sullivan or Proctors could find themselves on the wing and space for a leader to show the Hurricanes three All Black midfield hopefuls (Higgins, Proctor, Umaga-Jensen) how its done. Highlanders - Rotation is high as usual at the Highlanders and versatility remains a strength with a lot of the squad. With compatriot Rhys Patchell signing a move to the JRLO, the passing of outside back Connor Garden-Bachop, and confirmed departure of Argentine wing Martin Bogado, the versatility of many of the young backups in the squad could see a veteran 12 like Williams being a strong partner for the robust Tele’a. With hope that the other Umaga-Jensen brother can force him out of the starting lineup, and shifting the sides general Sam Gilbert back into 10, the off-contract midfielder might seen as the perfect option for a squad still looking to fill one back spot.

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