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Update on ex-Saracens hooker McElroy who is 12 weeks into Bristol trial after limbo

By Liam Heagney

Trending on RugbyPass

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Pat Lam has provided an update on the progress of Tadgh McElroy, the ex-Ireland U20s hooker who arrived at Bristol in March on a four-week trial period that has since been extended. It’s now a dozen weeks since the Bears issued the March 11 media release that noted the arrival of the front-rower with a chequered past.     

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The hooker had created headlines in his homeland in 2017 when he decided to join Saracens rather than the Connacht academy, a decision that resulted in Irish age-grade officials excluding him from the U20s World Cup that he was set to feature at in Georgia.

McElroy made the move back to Ireland after he exited Saracens in 2019 and his form for club side Clontarf had been promising until the All-Ireland League shut down in March 2020. That tournament has remained in cold storage since then, leaving the soon-to-be 24-year-old in limbo until Lam decided to take a look at what the front-rower might have to offer.    

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First-team matchday inclusion has understandably proven beyond McElroy, particularly as Bristol swooped in early May to snap up one-cap Scotland hooker Jake Kerr after he impressed on a free trial at the Bears following his release from his Leicester Tigers contract the previous month. 

But Lam has now reported that McElroy is still beavering away behind the scenes and a decision on whether Bristol will take him on for the 2021/22 campaign will soon be made. “Tadgh is still there, he is just on trial, he has done really well,” said Lam when queried by RugbyPass as to what the latest situation was regarding the Irishman.

“The Tadgh McElroy that arrived, that was training by himself up near Dundalk, it was really difficult (for him) to be able to come here and grow but physically and as a person, he has really enjoyed it and come through. I’m really pleased with the progress that he has made. There is a lot more progress for him to make obviously, but he has come in and been a really good person in the group,” continued the Bristol boss who added “that will be out later” when asked if a decision was soon likely on McElroy’s future.  

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While McElroy is toiling in the shadows, the more experienced Kerr has landed on his feet at the league leaders, making three Gallagher Premiership appearances in successive matches and starting twice – more exposure in a few weeks at Bristol than he had across the 2020/2021 season with Leicester where he was restricted to two appearances off the bench. 

There is no contract small print that makes him unavailable for Bristol selection this Saturday when they travel to Leicester, but Lam was coy about how the player might feel about going up against his old club just eleven weeks after playing eight minutes for Tigers off the bench at Exeter. “Yeah, he is up for selection. You’ll have to ask him yourself (about how he is feeling).”

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Update on ex-Saracens hooker McElroy who is 12 weeks into Bristol trial after limbo

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