Bristol boss Pat Lam has spoken with Fiji head coach Vern Cotter about injury management concerns surrounding star player Semi Radradra – the centre will miss a second successive Heineken Champions Cup game after being ruled of the clash against Connacht in Galway next Sunday.

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Radradra hurt his leg during the opening stages of Fiji’s Autumn Nations Cup victory over Georgia at Murrayfield on December 5. He subsequently suffered a bleed in his leg and might also be unavailable for Bristol’s Boxing Day appointment with Harlequins.

Bristol rugby director Lam believes the situation could have been avoided by Fiji taking Radradra off, therefore minimising injury issues, instead of keeping him on for the entire match. “It was good to get in contact with Vern,” Lam said. “It was never against Fiji Rugby, it was against the process of what happened.

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Tongan internationals often pay to play for their country

“As I said, if Semi had got a cruciate ligament injury in that game and he was out for the rest of our season, that happens. This was all around things that could have been handled better.

“It would be exactly the same if it had happened in the Wales camp or the England camp with other players. It would be no different. Semi won’t be available for this week. We are hoping for the week after, but it’s still touch and go.”

Bristol will face Lam’s former team – he coached Connacht to the PRO12 title in 2016 – knowing that a second successive Champions Cup defeat would effectively end their quarter-final ambitions. With just four rounds of pool games deciding the quarter-finalists from two groups, Lam accepts that Bristol need to bounce back immediately from a 51-38 home loss to Clermont Auvergne three days ago.

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We have made it difficult to get through, but it doesn’t mean you stop trying, because in rugby and sport you never know what is around the corner,” he added. “I would say, certainly, if you get two losses, you are not going through. For us and Connacht, and all the teams that lost in the first round, it’s all on the line this week. It is finals rugby already.”

Lam spent four years with Connacht before joining Bristol in 2017, and he said: “My wife has given me lots of Christmas presents to take with me! “For us to do what we did there was a huge collective team effort. Not just the team and management, it became a whole community thing.

“It’s easy to talk about having money and resources, but it is not about having the most money, it is about using your money wisely. The Connacht team is the people’s team, it really is. Although the Sportsground in Galway is a small ground, it was like playing in front of a full Twickenham or Aviva Stadium.”

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