Ellis Genge has been given special permission to make an early return to Premiership duty when Bristol host their local rivals Bath in Friday’s season-opening fixture. England players who went on the summer tour to Australia had been due to miss the first two rounds but Bristol have successfully sought an exemption in Genge’s case.
According to Pat Lam, Bristol’s director of rugby, Genge was desperate to feature at Ashton Gate and the Professional Game Board has duly cleared him to play on condition his game time is reduced before England’s autumn Tests and the Six Nations. It means the prop’s off-season will be less than eight weeks rather than the anticipated 10.
Lam said Genge is “pumped and ready to go” having rejoined his home town club from title-winning Leicester. “When Ellis arrived here and saw the fixtures he said, ‘It’s non-negotiable, no one’s stopping me playing in that game.’
“That was his mindset but we had to put in a plan of how we intend to manage him going into November and the Six Nations.
“Eddie Jones was very comfortable with that and then we put the plan in to the Game Management Board. They all signed it off. Ellis is highly excited for the game and there are still a few seats left if people want to see the impact he will make for Bristol on his homecoming.”
Both club and country will hope Genge proves as influential as he did last season when his leadership helped propel the Tigers to their first title since 2013. Lam said the 27-year-old is happily settled back in Bristol and has been a positive influence. “He has made a phenomenal impact. He has been out in the community already and it’s great to have him back.
“Without a doubt, there is more to come from him. He is one resilient person and he has been through a lot of adversity. Ellis is one of many people I have met in my life that you admire because of the lessons they have learned through those times. From what I see and hear from him, he is just growing and growing.”
With Bristol keen to put last season’s disappointing campaign behind them, Lam is also looking forward to reuniting Genge with his England colleague Kyle Sinckler, back fit having missed the end of the season and the Australia tour. “It’s Kyle’s first pre-season in a long time,” said Lam.
“The injury he had with his back… he played with a lot of pain. It’s great he is fit and healthy again. Training yesterday was pretty intense and he looks ready to go.”
A hectic season awaits for all concerned, with the campaign due to end in late May because of next year’s World Cup. England also have four autumn internationals in the diary, starting against Argentina on 6 November.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism