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The Bristol verdict on their rookie tighthead who joined as a No8

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

It’s been quite the journey at Bristol for the locally sourced talent George Kloska. The 23-year-old originally arrived at the Bears as an aspiring No8, was soon switched to hooker and then when his inconsistent throwing became an issue, the gamble was taken to transform him into a prop, originally a loosehead but lately at tighthead.

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Four different pack positions in as many years – it’s a circuitous development and with Kyle Sinckler currently away on England duty, a valuable opportunity has knocked in recent weeks for the flexible forward who will play the bench backup role on Sunday behind Max Lahiff when Harlequins visit Ashton Gate.

The fixture will mark Kloska’s 22nd appearance for Bristol, an education that commenced long ago with a 2018/19 debut as a teenager. In recent times there have been loan spells at Bedford and Hartpury, but he is now in the thick of it with Bristol, coming off the bench in all three of their most recent Gallagher Premiership victories.

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It’s a dividend that Lam is pleased to finally bank following the long-term Bristol investment in Kloska. “It’s about the perseverance and the resilience of George,” he enthused. “When he first came in, he was a back-rower that went to hooker.

“You can see with his size that he can handle the game but certainly the throwing was taking its time, so when we got to a point when we weren’t selecting him because of his throwing wasn’t quite right, but he was a good rugby player.

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“Then we thought about moving him to loosehead, but we had a few looseheads. Then we tried the experiment of moving him to tighthead which meant he had to bulk up. George used to be 108kilos and he is now 120. Over the last couple of years, he has built that up but also (scrum coach) Mark Irish has done extremely good work with George. George is a Bristolian born and bred so you know he has got the fight, wants to compete and has got the desire for this club to be successful.

“He has just slowly been going about his business. He came on against Will Stuart and Tom Dunn at The Rec at 15-13 and faced four big scrums. Any one of those scrums he doesn’t perform, that is a penalty and potentially the losing of that game.

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“The scrum went well, and he then came on earlier last weekend and his carries were good, he made some big hits and scored a great try. His development is right on track and what we expected. That is a real credit to George and the coaches. It is a credit to trusting the process, the plan for him to be an excellent, local tighthead prop.”

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