Ellis Genge played against hometown club Bristol on several occasions after leaving for Leicester Tigers
Ellis Genge played against hometown club Bristol on several occasions after leaving for Leicester Tigers

Bristol Bears head coach Pat Lam says homecoming hero Ellis Genge has already lifted standards ahead of their Premiership derby opener against Bath.

Bears have won all four home derbies with Bath since returning to the top flight in 2018.

“A lot of people can talk but he’s a doer, a giver, that’s one thing I’ve noticed,” Lam told BBC Radio Bristol.

“He’s a competitor, someone who has high standards. But it’s actions that ensure he gets better.

“Phenomenal is probably the word. He has actions, first and foremost, followed by very, very calm words that match the actions.

“But more importantly he has enjoyed himself. He’s come in, he’s come home really – this is his community, he wants to represent his people again, that drives him.”

Genge, 27, captained Leicester to the Premiership title last term and started England’s Test series-clinching victory over Australia in Sydney just over seven weeks ago.

As with all England players, Bristol had to apply for dispensation for Genge to feature in their season-opener and Lam said the player himself was determined to be involved.

“We put a plan in for Ellis and I think it started on the basis that Ellis arrived here, saw the first draw and said ‘non-negotiable, I’m playing that game, no one is stopping me playing that game’,” Lam added.

Bears will have two England props in their ranks with Genge linking up alongside Kyle Sinckler, who is fully fit after recovering from a back problem that troubled him for much of last term.

Kyle Sinckler and Ellis Genge have been England team-mates since 2017 and will now link up in Bristol's front row
Kyle Sinckler and Ellis Genge have been England team-mates since 2017 and will now link up in Bristol’s front row

“It’s his first pre-season in a long time and fair play to Kyle, the injury he had with his back, he played with a lot of pain,” Lam added.

“I think Ellis being here has lifted him as well, has challenged him – he and Ellis have a really strong relationship where they will push [each other].

“Two players don’t make the team but what they can do is influence. The best thing about Kyle and Ellis is they have come in and worked out – Kyle last year and Ellis this year – the Bears’ way.”

Bristol have won six of their eight league meetings with Bath over the past four campaigns but ended last season in 10th position, only a year on from finishing top of the Premiership for the first time.

“I’ve seen real improvement – part of it is because new players have come in but also a lot of it is to do with the way we performed last year, there’s a lot of determination to be a lot better,” Lam added.

“We’ve been in the Premiership the last four years and we’ve got into the top four twice and we know what it takes.

“We are excited for the season and the derby takes care of itself, you don’t have to talk about intensity or physicality.

“We are very proud of what we’ve done [against Bath in the past] but that’s history – it’s about the here and the now and kicking the competition off very well for us.”

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