Bristol Bears superstar Semi Radradra has returned from injury more than a month early to be named on the bench against Gloucester on Friday night.
Back in October, Bristol announced Radradra would be out for 16 weeks, expected to make his return in January, having undergone surgery on a knee injury he sustained at the delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games this summer.
However, the Fijian captain, along with England international Harry Randall, club captain Steven Luatua, prop stalwart John Afoa and stars Harry Thacker and Luke Morahan have all recovered from injuries to be named in the 23-man squad to travel to Kingsholm in Round 10 of the Gallagher Premiership.
It will be centre Radradra’s first appearance of the season with Lam telling Bristol Live last week he was looking to reintroduce his cohort of injured stars this weekend ahead of the European Heineken Champions Cup kicking off on December 11, with the Scarlets due at Ashton Gate in the opening group game of the 2021/22 competition.
The former rugby league star injured his knee in the semi-final of the rugby sevens competition at the Tokyo games, missing the final but still helping his Pacific Island nation to win back-to-back gold in the rugby sevens.
His club return comes as a massive boost to the Bears backline which has been struggling in his absence.
Radradra’s last appearance for the club was Bristol’s heart-breaking Premiership semi-final defeat to Harlequins back in June.
However, should Radradra take to the pitch at Kingsholm he will be playing opposite one of the best defensive outside centres in the world in the form of Scotland star Chris Harris who joins fellow 2021 British and Irish Lions star Louis Rees-Zammit in returning to the starting Cherry and Whites side.
Gloucester Rugby: 15. Lloyd Evans, 14. Louis Rees-Zammit, 13. Chris Harris, 12. Mark Atkinson, 11. Ollie Thorley, 10. Adam Hastings, 9. Ben Meehan; 1. Val Rapava-Ruskin, 2. Jack Singleton, 3. Kirill Gotovtsev, 4. Freddie Clarke, 5. Matias Alemanno, 6. Ruan Ackermann, 7. Lewis Ludlow (c), 8. Ben Morgan.
Replacements: 16. Santiago Socino, 17. Harry Elrington, 18. Jamal Ford-Robinson, 19. Andrew Davidson, 20. Jordy Reid, 21. Charlie Chapman, 22. Billy Twelvetrees, 23. Kyle Moyle.
Bristol Bears: 15. Charles Piutau (53 apps); 14. Toby Fricker (22 apps), 13. Henry Purdy (27 apps), 12. Piers O’Conor (89 apps), 11. Alapati Leiua (89 apps); 10. Callum Sheedy (115 apps), 9. Harry Randall (71 apps); 1. Jake Woolmore (89 apps), 2. Harry Thacker (59 apps), 3. John Afoa (73 apps), 4. Dave Attwood (63 apps), 5. Joe Joyce (132 apps), 6. Chris Vui (74 apps), 7. Dan Thomas (95 apps), 8. Steven Luatua (83 apps) (c).
Replacements: 16. Jake Kerr (10 apps), 17. Yann Thomas (76 apps), 18. Ashley Challenger (2 apps), 19. Jake Heenan (61 apps), 20. Fitz Harding (15 apps), 21. Tom Whiteley (4 apps), 22. Semi Radradra (22 apps), 23. Luke Morahan (85 apps).
Referee: Christophe Ridley (49th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Anthony Woodthorpe and Dean Richards.
TMO: David Rose
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