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Bristol confirm nine contract extensions, including Steven Luatua

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Bristol have followed Thursday’s signing ex-Wasps duo Gabriel Oghre and Sam Wolstenholme by confirming contract extensions for nine current first-team players – including ex-All Blacks back-rower Steven Luatua.

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A statement read: “Bristol Bears can confirm that nine of its first-team stars have committed their futures to the club. Steven Luatua, Harry Thacker, Max Lahiff, Yann Thomas, Jake Woolmore, Jake Heenan, Piers O’Conor, Ed Holmes and Jay Tyack have all signed extended deals at Ashton Gate.

“Legendary former All Black and current club captain Luatua, 31, who first joined Bristol Bears in 2017, has made 110 appearances for the club and is widely regarded as one of the greatest players to represent the Bears in the professional era.

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“Dynamic hooker Thacker, 29, who has scored more competitive tries than any other forward in the club’s history with 45, has made 97 competitive appearances for the Bears since joining from Leicester Tigers in 2018.

“Tighthead prop Lahiff, 33, has made 64 appearances for the club after arriving from Bath in 2019, while loosehead duo Yann Thomas (107 appearances) and Jake Woolmore (129 appearances) are both Bears centurions.

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“Heenan, 30, who can play across the back row, has made 91 appearances for the club since arriving from Connacht in 2018, scoring five tries. Versatile back O’Conor, 27, has made 120 appearances for the Bears since his arrival from Ealing Trailfinders in 2018 and was named in the Gallagher Premiership Team of the Season in 2020/21.

“Second-row Holmes, 27, joined the club from Exeter Chiefs in 2019 and has gone on to make 95 appearances for the Bears. Tighthead prop Jay Tyack, 26, who joined from Worcester Warriors on a short-term deal, signs an extension in Bear Country after impressing this season.”

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Director of rugby Pat Lam said: “A huge part of our long-term retention plan was to ensure the continuation of our experience and leadership within the group. To have four Bears centurions, and three players who are about to become centurions re-signing with the club reinforces this plan.

“These players, along with others, have really driven our culture and environment over the last four to six years and will take this to the next level as they continue to mentor the next group of players coming through around the Bears Way.

“As far as recruitment goes, to be able to bring in two very talented young English players in Gabriel Oghre and Sam Wolstenholme, who will add genuine competition amongst the group, is vital for the success of our team.”

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