Bristol make a big prediction on England career of Harry Randall
Pat Lam has predicted that Test level newcomer Harry Randall has a potentially long England career ahead of him after the Bristol scrum-half recently made his Guinness Six Nations breakthrough. The 24-year-old was first capped by Eddie Jones for last July’s Summer Series versus the USA and Canada, but that introduction was nothing compared to what unfolded in recent weeks.
Things initially didn’t look promising for Randall when Jones left him rooted to the Murrayfield bench as an unused sub in the opening round England loss to Scotland.
However, the upside of the defeat was that it convinced the coach that he needed to shake things up and he opted to start Randall in the next three games versus Italy, Wales and Ireland before the record-breaking caps holder Ben Youngs was promoted to start last weekend’s final round match away to France.
Randall has now returned to his club and the half-back is in the Bristol starting lineup to face Saracens at the Tottenham stadium in a Gallagher Premiership game on Saturday that is set to attract an attendance in excess of 40,000.
Lam was enthused by what he saw from Randall in the England jersey. “As I said at the time, it was like he played with a Bears jersey on which was awesome,” said the Bristol boss at his midweek media briefing, reiterating a reply he had previously given to RugbyPass a few days after England had beaten Wales in round three of the Six Nations.
“His service was quick, he was energetic, he brought tempo, he was fast. I thought he and Marcus (Smith) worked really well – you look at the speed of ball that he provided. His kicking game has improved massively over the years and that came into the Test arena, but he looked comfortable. It has been a great experience for him personally to be at that next level and show what he can do. He is going to potentially have a great career representing England.”
The return of Randall to the Bristol set-up is timely given the extraordinary situation regarding scrum-half unavailability during February and March. When they played Bath last week in the Premiership Cup, the cup-tying of Max Green left them with seven senior scrum-halves unavailable and relying on Clifton College pupil Pete Carter, a member of the national title-winning U18 side, taking a spot on the bench.
“What a difference,” enthused Lam about being able to select Randall as his Bristol No9 versus Saracens with Green in the replacements. “To be fair the last four years Harry Randall and Andy Uren have dominated at nine and nine is a big part of our game and they are instinctive in the Bears way.
“Andy has racked up over a hundred games and Harry is 80-odd. That period of time at the start of Six Nations when Harry was gone followed by Andy the next week (injured) followed by Tom Whiteley the next week followed by Toby Venner followed by Max Green followed by Oscar Lennon. It forced us into a situation to adapt but as soon as Harry came back this week you can see a lift and Andy is not far behind. It’s huge.”
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