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The Bristol verdict on Harry Randall, the forgotten England No9

By Liam Heagney
England's Harry Randall (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Bristol have given their verdict on the situation that has seen Harry Randall tumble down the England selection pecking order a year after he was their starting scrum-half for the majority of their 2022 Guinness Six Nations matches. The 25-year-old was the starting No9 in three of that championship’s games, making a fourth appearance off the bench.

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Randall went on to be an England vice-captain versus the Barbarians but an embarrassing Twickenham defeat in that exhibition game XV had Australian tour repercussions as Eddie Jones recalled veteran Danny Care and also promoted rookie Jack van Poortvliet ahead of the Bristol half-back over the course of that trip.

He then suffered a hamstring injury in October and it wasn’t until three months later in mid-January that he recommenced his season and his sixth start in recent weeks will now take place on Friday when Bristol host Northampton in the Gallagher Premiership.

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In the meantime, with England now under the baton of new head coach Steve Borthwick, van Poortvliet has become the No1 Test choice at scrum-half with Alex Mitchell providing the bench backup and record caps holder Ben Youngs out of the picture.

That situation has allowed Randall to concentrate on being the best version of himself for Bristol and director of rugby Pat Lam is delighted by what he has seen since his player’s latest comeback started with a Challenge Cup trip to Zebre.

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“The big thing for him was that the injury really affected him in that (England) sense, but he is resilient and he is tough. The things we are talking about, I believe the knockbacks and setbacks he has had through injury, form or selection is what has made him this way and that is what I love when guys build resilience through adversity because it is part of life but not everyone does it and we are seeing the benefit of that for Harry.

“If you look at our last two seasons, this season and last season, it’s no coincidence last season I lost both him and Andy (Uren) at the same time for a good two months and that was pretty important, and it’s no coincidence that Harry had another big injury earlier this season and we are now winning and Harry is back.

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“I’m not saying it’s all on Harry but what I am saying is how influential he is in our game and the biggest thing for Harry is his leadership has gone to a completely different level. He has really taken it. He has said, ‘Right, I’m going to be here’. This is his mindset. ‘I’m here for maybe three, four more years, maybe longer, I’m going to take control of a lot of things.’

“He has a great feel for the game. The good thing is he is single-minded about playing well for Bristol and leading and off the back of that, he puts himself in the frame of what Steve Borthwick has another great lot of depth at nine. He has some really good players there, so Harry has just got to continue doing it week in and week out and the rest will take care of itself.”

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Boyce 318 days ago

Harry is a special player. Great work ethic. He is also a very creative scrum half. I haven’t seen anyone like him other than Faff Declerk or in cricket Australian leg spinner Shane Warne. He dares to do things differently. Harry will fill the stadium

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