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Six debuts as Bristol Bears roll out the big guns to face Bath

Six players will make their competitive debuts for the club when Bristol Bears kick off the Gallagher Premiership season on Friday against West Country rivals Bath.

Pat Lam’s men face Bath in front of a club record crowd at Ashton Gate and the head coach hands maiden starts to Luke Daniels and Nic Stirzaker in the backline.

Meanwhile, in the pack, Yann Thomas, Harry Thacker and John Afoa form a new-look front row partnership, while George Smith is included at openside.

New Zealand international Steven Luatua will skipper the side for the round one West Country derby clash.

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Charles Piutau (shoulder) misses out, while another new arrival – Aly Muldowney (neck) – is also unavailable for selection.

Lam said: “It brings huge responsibility. We have to go out there and celebrate the work that we do on the training ground and put our teamwork into practice. Everybody is busting a gut to be involved at Ashton Gate.”

Lam selects a five forwards and three backs split on the replacements bench, with Jake Woolmore, Shaun Malton and Jake Armstrong all in line to make their competitive debuts.

Bristol Bears team to face Bath Rugby at Ashton Gate on Friday, August 31st (7.45pm KO):

15. Luke Daniels
14. Luke Morahan
13. Will Hurrell
12. Tusi Pisi
11. Alapati Leiua
10. Ian Madigan
9. Nic Stirzaker
1. Yann Thomas
2. Harry Thacker
3. John Afoa
4. Ed Holmes
5. Chris Vui
6. Steve Luatua (c)
7. George Smith
8. Jordan Crane

Replacements: 16. Shaun Malton, 17. Jake Woolmore, 18. Jake Armstrong, 19. Joe Latta, 20. Jack Lam, 21. Andy Uren, 22. Callum Sheedy, 23. Ryan Edwards.

Unavailable: Jack Cosgrove (foot), Sione Faletau (calf), Aly Muldowney (neck), John Hawkins (thumb), Dan Thomas (knee), Sam Jeffries (head), James Dun (knee), Siale Piutau (dead leg), Mat Protheroe (knee), Aaron Chapman (achilles), Charles Piutau (shoulder).

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Bath’s line-up

Bath Rugby team to face Bristol Bears (appearances in brackets)

1. Nathan Catt (153)
2. Jack Walker (17)
3. Henry Thomas (74)
4. Dave Attwood (136)
5. Matt Garvey (117)
6. Zach Mercer (36)
7. Sam Underhill (8)
8. Taulupe Faletau (30)

9. Chris Cook (112)
10. Rhys Priestland (57)
11. Joe Cokanasiga (debut)
12. Jamie Roberts (debut)
13. Jackson Willison (debut)
14. Semesa Rokoduguni (118)
15. Tom Homer (65)

Replacements

16. Tom Dunn (84)
17. Will Vaughan (3)
18. Anthony Perenise (100)
19. Elliott Stooke (61)
20. Francois Louw (115)
21. Max Green (9)
22. Freddie Burns (24)
23. Aled Brew (43)

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Six debuts as Bristol Bears roll out the big guns to face Bath | RugbyPass