Bristol set sights on Champions Cup rugby, says head coach Pat Lam
Last Updated: 21/08/17 5:52pm
Pat Lam believes that the culture instilled in his Bristol ahead of the new Greene King IPA Championship season will ensure they can compete with the best Europe has to offer.
The former Samoan international, who tasted coaching success when he guided Connacht to PRO12 glory in 2015-2016, has assembled a squad teeming with young exciting home bred talent littered with experienced performers as they look to gain promotion back into the Aviva Premiership and beyond with his sights set on becoming a Champions Cup team.
One indication of the intent shown by Bristol to compete with the best that Europe has to offer is the singing of Charles Piutau who will join up with the club ahead of the 2018/2019 season, a man that Lam believes can go some way to helping Bristol achieve their goals.
"I knew when his contract was finishing like other coaches but obviously I have a relationship and a good friendship with Charles and I just told him the vision" Lam told Sky Sports.
"I talked about that we have a vision to inspire our community to rugby success, we want to be a Champions Cup team, we want players to play for England and we want Bristol players to come through.
"He can help in all those areas; he's a Champions Cup quality player, the mentoring and help he will give people like Matt Protheroe and Charlie Powell, Matt Wash, all these young Bristolian boys coming through. He's a big part of the plan and just talked him through it and he was keen and jumped on board.
"That plan started two months ago when we came back and I said what we are doing now is now different if we were about to play Saracens or Leicester or Bath or playing in the Premiership, it would be no different if we were playing the All Blacks out here at Twickenham, everything that we are driving we want to put the standards at an international standard."
Despite the extensive resources available to Lam at his new club, he believes that it will be culture instilled off the field that help Bristol achieve their potential this season
"I have been in teams that have been the other way around," Lam told Sky Sports ahead of the new Championship season.
"They don't maybe have the resources that the main team has and it doesn't come down to resources, it helps you there's no doubt about it but rugby is rugby and it comes back to the culture, comes back to the quality of rugby we play, comes back to how much we want to play for each other.
"Being professional is not about how much you get paid, it is about how you conduct yourself and all those values and traditions of rugby and what we are trying to bring together off the field will hopefully hold us in good stead. Certainly that is the challenge for us, everyone wants to beat us and that will happen if we allow it to happen."
Bristol's campaign kicks off in front of the Sky cameras as they face newly-promoted Hartpury on September 3 and Lam is keen for the season to get underway after a tough pre-season.
"We are looking forward to it. We have big plans in what we want to do but ultimately the big challenge was when we set up structures and systems was all about the way we do things every day and what we do in the game when we go and play as a celebration of what we do.
Although you've got a big goal and where you want to be you've got to work through day-to-day, game-to game."
"The greatest respect we can pay to all the teams we play is to make sure we are at our best and that's going to come down to competition and the way we train during the week and keeping everybody on their toes.
Everything has been building to 3pm on September 3 against Hartpury. We have had a pretty tough pre-season and we have got one more big game against Connacht this week then we should be ready to go."
Watch Bristol kick-off their Greene King IPA season underway against Hartpury on September 3, live on Sky Sports.