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'It's non-negotiable, I'm playing that game, no one is stopping me'

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

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Bristol boss Pat Lam has hailed the phenomenal impact of Ellis Genge around the club as he prepares to feature in Friday’s Gallagher Premiership opener against Bath. England prop Genge, who captained Leicester to the Premiership title last term, is set for a match-day role in the west country derby at Ashton Gate.

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Bristol-born Genge, 27, started England’s Test series-clinching victory over Australia in Sydney just over seven weeks ago. “You have to put in your plan for them [the England players] and proposals and each club is different,” said Bristol rugby director Lam.

“You apply to the game management board, which is in partnership with Premiership Rugby and the Rugby Players’ Association. We put a plan in for Ellis and it started on the basis that he arrived here and saw the first game and said: ‘It is non-negotiable. I’m playing that game. No one is stopping me playing that game’.

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“That was his mindset, so then we had to put a plan in place about how we would manage his game time going into November (internationals) and then going into the Six Nations. I was able to share that with Eddie (Jones, the England head coach) and he was very happy. Then it went to the game management board and they all signed it off.

Ellis is highly excited for the game and there are still a few seats left if people want to get down and see the impact he will make for Bristol on his homecoming.”

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Bristol finished tenth in the Premiership last season – they were title playoff contenders a year earlier – and the return of Genge to the club he represented between 2013 and 2016 has already had an effect. Lam added: “He has made a phenomenal impact. Actions first and foremost followed by very calm words that match the action but more importantly, he has enjoyed himself.

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“He has come home. It’s great to have him back and, most importantly, he is happy. Without a doubt, there is more to come from him. He is a competitor. His actions will ensure he will get better. What I see from him, what I hear from him, what I observe, he is just growing and growing.”

Lam, meanwhile, confirmed that Genge’s Bristol colleague and fellow England prop Kyle Sinckler is available for selection against Bath. Sinckler missed England’s Australia tour due to a back problem.

“The injury he had with his back, he played with a lot of pain and taking that break and working with the medical team, it’s great he is fit and healthy again. He is pumped. Training yesterday [Monday] was pretty intense and he looks ready to go.”

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