3 Positions Bristol Bears Need to Strengthen & the Players They Could Sign to Fix Them – Summer 2020
Bristol Bears will be more frustrated than most with the sudden halt to all competitive rugby, considering they were beginning to gather some momentum off the back of their empathic victory over Harlequins at Ashton Gate.
Bloody global pandemic, eh?
So with the season in limbo and teams probably already planning for next season, we look at where Pat Lam needs to strengthen and the players they should target to fill those gaps.
They are in need of another number 10 after it was confirmed Ian Madigan will be leaving the club in the summer.
That leaves Lam with just two recognised number 10s in Callum Sheedy and Tiff Eden.
Max Malins, who joins from Saracens on a season-long loan, is a versatile back who can also play fly-half, but they need a playmaking general if they’re going to be serious title contenders.
1. Gareth Steenson
The 35-year-old Exeter legend is set to be out of contract in the summer after last signing a two year extension in 2018. Steenson has been at the forefront of Exeter’s rise out of the Championship and their subsequent rise to Premiership champions. If Bristol could convince him to delay retirement, he’d bring a controlling presence on the pitch while helping develop and nurture the likes of Malins and Sheedy off it.
2. Jimmy Gopperth
This summer he turns 37, and with Ryan Mills being recruited from Worcester Warriors, it means it’s unlikely he’ll stay with Wasps. Another player with an abundance of experience who’d offer as much off the pitch as on it.
3. Freddie Burns
The fly-half has something to prove after becoming a bit-part player at Bath in the last year. He has been linked with a move to Top 14 leaders Lyon and also reportedly has offers from Super Rugby clubs. However, if he chooses not to leave the Premiership, the 29-year-old could play a key role in a title-chasing side if he joins Bristol.
4. Matt Toomua
The 47-cap Wallaby is an international superstar who is available for the Bears to go sign on a short-term deal.
This is due to Toomua, who was forced to take a huge paycut, being given the green light to take a leave of absence from Super Rugby and secure short term contracts in places such as England and the Japanese Top League before returning in time for the July 2021 Test schedule.
Would be an incredible signing.