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Bristol deliver encouraging update on paddle-board injured Randall

By Liam Heagney

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Bristol are now expecting to have Harry Randall back in action for them in the not too distant future, beating the initial prognosis of a two-month layoff with a hip flexor injury sustained while with England at their Autumn Nations Series training camp. It was October 27 when the rookie Test level scrum-half sustained the injury, hurting himself during a squad paddle-board exercise in the sea off Jersey.

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He was cleared by the England medics to take part in an on-pitch training session afterwards but Randall would end up having to withdraw from the squad for the matches versus Tonga, Australia and South Africa. It was the following week when Bristol boss Pat Lam confirmed his player was likely to be sidelined until in or around the new year. “I have seen guys get injured just stepping off the bus,” said Lam at the time in reference to how Randell was hurt while paddle-boarding. 

“All sorts of ways they can get injured, it happens. Of course, it’s frustrating to lose a player like that, but it’s no different when I lose them anywhere. I’m a realist and understand that players will get injured. That is why I always say to the guys when I name a team, everyone has got to prepare to play because so many times someone pulls out at the last minute and we just have to adapt and change.”

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Guess the celebrity Rose | Adebayo Akinfenwa | England Rugby
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With the Autumn Nations Series now over, Lam has now given an update about his club’s international contingent which included England tighthead Kyle Sinckler and Wales’ Callum Sheedy as well as Randall. “You have a lot of confidence when they are away that they are in good hands and you want them to focus on that and then you make a decision (about their selection for Bristol) when they come back.

“The EPS [England elite player squad] players have a week off, so Kyle has a week off to go and Callum is back and then Harry is not far away. It’s all good. It [Randall’s injury] has improved. He is looking a lot better so he hopefully is not too far away.”

The injury to Randall was the second serious setback he had encountered while on England duty this year. Having been called into the squad for the Six Nations while still uncapped, he injured an ankle during training in the mid-February fallow week and it wasn’t the early April Champions Cup fixture at Bordeaux that he was available to play again for Bristol.  Randell went on to make his Test debut in the summer series, starting the England matches versus the USA and Canada, and Bristol will look to have him involved at some stage in their busy block of fixtures.

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“This end of November, December, January is a tough block when you look at Saints, Gloucester, Scarlets, Stade Francais before Christmas, Leicester, Exeter, Sale so it is a big run. That is why it is important why our depth is strong and our form is strong,” said Lam, who added the release of his Samoan players for next Saturday match versus the Barbarians was never a runner. “No, because everyone knows it [the game] is outside the window, so it is not a discussion because it is a world rule.”

Having won just one of the opening six Premiership matches, Bristol signed off before the recent break with a win over Worcester which lifted them to eleventh on the table and they will now look to build on this when they host Northampton, a club they haven’t lost to since September 2018 in the league.

“The first thing we needed to get right from the very beginning was the work rate,” explained Lam about how he has gone about improving his team following their shaky start to the 2021/22 campaign. “The team was built on work rate, on outworking the opposition, making sure we that we get off the ground quickly and move.

“That was the main focus and we had lost that, certainly in the first couple of games. And then the second thing was recognising that when we do it in the team the Bears way, we are very effective so it was about getting everyone on board and certainly those games have helped.”

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Switching to their current five-game winning streak over the Saints, 26-24, 20-14, 47-10, 18-17 and 28-21, the Bristol boss said: “Every year it is always a good game. The last time we lost to Northampton was my 50th birthday, we had a fancy dress party that night at Ashton Gate.

“I remember that because we lost 44-40 and then since then the competition has always been tough. They have been good games because both teams have got a great attitude to play good rugby, but it is one you have got to be very precise on because they can cause you a lot of damage. The last one was close and it has always gone right down to the wire in the last three years.”

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Bristol deliver encouraging update on paddle-board injured Randall

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