The Bristol Bears have a lot more work to do, says boss Pat Lam

image source, Getty Images

image caption, Pat Lam led Bristol to the top of the Premiership in 2021

Bristol Bears have “a lot more work to do” to get back to challenging at the top of every competition, says director of rugby Pat Lam.

The Bears sit seventh in the Premiership but can still claim a top-four spot if they beat Harlequins in Saturday’s final and other results go their way.

Bristol finished top of the Premiership in 2021 but have finished 10th and ninth in the last two campaigns.

“(There’s) a lot to do – we want to be challenging in every competition we play,” Lam told BBC Radio Bristol.

“We were there at one point and we let ourselves go. This is just the beginning of where we want to go.”

Defeat by Saracens in Bristol’s final home game of the regular season at Ashton Gate last weekend ended a run of six Premiership victories for the club which stretched back to December.

While Bristol must win at the Twickenham Stoop and hope that Exeter and Sale, above them, lose if they are to secure a play-off place, Lam insisted that this campaign is proof of progress regardless of the result .

“We’re in the mix, which is a testament to the good work the boys have done all season,” Lam said.

“I went through hard times. The last 10, 12 weeks since Christmas have been very pleasant. I have already planned a pre-season for next year.

“We will have a smaller squad, a lot of young and exciting players. That continues our journey, but in a way where we have certainty about what we want to do and how we want to play.”

Lam believes the closeness of this year’s Premiership top-four race – just 11 points separate leaders Northampton from seventh-placed Bears – has been “good for the game” but says his only focus is on the performance in final day against Quins.

“It’s all about playing your best rugby when it counts – and it counts here,” he added.

“At the end of it, when the full-time whistle goes around five o’clock, we’ll see what that table looks like.

“The only control we have is our performance and that’s what we’re working on.”