With Vunipola sidelined, there is no specialist No.8 in head coach Eddie Jones’ England squad as he prepares for a Six Nations opener against France in eight days.
“I was pleased for Nathan,” Lam said. “All he can do is keep playing well. A lot revolves around Billy, and it’s a massive blow, I believe.
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WATCH: Head coach Eddie Jones and captain Owen Farrell hold a press conference in London ahead of the start of the Six Nations tournament.
“Billy is that type of player, which is what Nathan is. All he can do is just keep putting his name in the hat by playing well for us.”
Hughes, 28, excelled in an outstanding Bristol back-row alongside Steven Luatua and Dan Thomas, and Lam added: “Loose forwards are a trio, and we have been really emphasising that to all our back-row forwards.
“If you look at all the best back-row combinations, they all have a really good understanding, and these guys are growing that.”
Bristol ended a run of three successive league defeats by sweeping aside their west country rivals.
Welshman Callum Sheedy was the architect, kicking 19 points, including the conversion of wing Henry Purdy’s try against his former club.
Full-back Luke Morahan confirmed a comprehensive win by touching down 11 minutes from time as Bristol were rewarded for their relentless pressure.
Substitute Mat Protheroe added a third Bristol try – again converted by Sheedy – to put the seal on an impressive display.
“We got quick ball and there were lots of opportunities, so it was about just attacking directly and not throwing miss-passes and long balls,” Lam said.
In years gone by, losing Vunipola would have been a death knell to England's Six Nations ambitions. Not so anymore, despite no recognised No 8s in the squad. England are good for now, but they need a deputy. https://t.co/8SRqmwDycd
— Alex Shaw (@alexshawsport) January 24, 2020
“I am frustrated that we gave away nine silly points by guys doing wrong jobs in the wrong place, but we put them under a lot more pressure in the second half.
“While the win was good, and the boys might have thought they would have Monday off after that, I said I would have given it to them if they had got a bonus point.
“There were opportunities we certainly left out there.”
Owen Williams booted three penalties for Gloucester, while Billy Twelvetrees converted Freddie Clarke’s late try, but they failed to close the gap on second-placed Northampton after being outgunned in most departments.
The 'elephant in the room' has been addressed. https://t.co/Bn7ziMNjjz
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) January 24, 2020
Gloucester head coach Johan Ackermann said: “We never really got into the game in the first half, and they had 70-odd per cent territory and possession, which sapped the energy out of us.
“Bristol were outstanding with the ball, especially in the second half.
“The penalty-count has been a concern for the last couple of weeks, our discipline and the penalties we are conceding.
“Poor discipline was probably the cause of us not getting possession and not being able to put any pressure on them. It is something that has hampered us in the last few weeks.
“To me, the errors we make are silly errors. We never really got our attack going.”
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