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Beyond bare-bones: The out-half crisis that has Premiership leaders Bristol set to use Ioan Lloyd's 18-year-old brother this Friday

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by PA)

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Bristol Bears may on the surface be feeling very good about life at the minute, sitting on top of the Gallagher Premiership by six points twelve games into the regulation 22-game season, but their depth has become so stretched at out-half they are looking at the possibility of putting Ioan Lloyd’s recently turned 18-year-old brother on the bench for next Friday’s game with Wasps.


With Callum Sheedy, last Saturday’s starter at Worcester now back with Wales ahead of their next Guinness Six Nations game, replacement Tiff Eden is in line for only his third ever Premiership start at out-half with Bristol.

After that, though, Bristol are beyond bare-bones due to injuries and international call-ups and it has left Lam calling in Jack Lloyd, the younger brother of injured Ioan, to see whether the current Clifton College student can sufficiently impress enough at training to be given a bench jersey for the Bears’ next Premiership game at Ashton Gate.

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“We have got a real challenge this week,” revealed Lam at his weekly media conference. “Callum has now gone back (to Wales). Max Malins is away (with England). Ioan, his ankle looks maybe four weeks at a minimum so he is gone. Sam Bedlow is suspended. That’s four 10s.

“Tom Wilstead, our academy 10, is integrated, has been training with us. He did his groin, so he is gone for almost the season. We have Tiff Eden left but it’s challenging just looking around who else wants to cover 10. A few are trying to put their hands up.

“Charles Piutau. Piers O’Conor, Semi (Radradra) is volunteering ‘I’m ready’ every week and he will play anywhere. Siale (Piutau) would go there but he is not back from his injury. But the number of guys who go, ‘Yeah, I’ll do it’. Even Andy (Uren) is going, ‘I can play there’. Andy can goal kick so I said to him to put some work into it this week because that is the other side to it, the goal kicking issue because Charles can’t goal kick and the only next guy who can goal kick is Andy.


“We have got Ioan’s brother Jack, who is still at Clifton College, in our academy, and he is going to be in (full-time) once he finishes school this year. He is going to come to training this week but it would be a big call. We’ll just see how he goes. We’ll mix and match and see what comes out of that.

“He’s just turned 18. If he wasn’t 18 he wouldn’t be allowed to play. I’ll see how he goes. It’s a big challenge. He is a talent as well, a real talent at school similar to Ioan. We will see how the week goes but you can see the challenge we face.

“Jack has got some skills. Ioan will always say he is better, like a good older brother. A younger brother will say he is better, like a good younger brother. He was in our U18s programme last year. Jack’s coming through, we’ll have a look. He has already signed up for our academy full-time next year.”

Reverting to Eden, the 26-year-old who spent time at Hartpury last season, Lam added: “He has played a couple of games and it’s about him leading, it’s about him calling the shots and working with the guys around him.


“That’s the thing, his game will be better served with everyone doing their jobs. When you are putting guys in, the best players are able to deal with it. Like Callum, that bit of pressure separates him from others. You have players who can play but can they do it under pressure, that is the challenge.

“Tiff has got a very good kicking game, his goal kicking is very good and that is going to be important for us this week and his opportunity to lead. But what needs to happen is he fits the system and trusts the guys around him, that will be the big one.”


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