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'It's A Privilege To Play For My Boyhood Club'

In the latest of a weekly series of blog posts from Bristol Rugby players, Joe Joyce explains what it means to play for his boyhood idols.

I’m delighted to have signed a two-year deal at Bristol Rugby and pleased to have committed to the cause. It’s great when you see so many of the lads showing their loyalty by staying with Bristol – it makes a big difference in the dressing room because everyone is invested in getting us to the Premiership.

It’s been a positive campaign for me personally and I’m enjoying my rugby at the moment. I knew in the summer that it was a big season because I had to prove myself and get some consistent Championship rugby under my belt. I worked hard on the training pitch and fortunately got opportunities with the first team. I’m pretty pleased with how I have played but I know I need to keep improving to challenge for a starting spot.

It’s easy to get downhearted when you don’t get selected, but I’ve got to remember that I’m competing against British Lions and really experienced players for a starting spot. We have competition for places in every position and you need that in a successful squad. For guys who aren’t the matchday 22, the important thing is to support the lads who are starting in training and keep a positive attitude because you never know when you will be called upon and you need to be ready to do the job.

As someone who grew up in the city and supporting Bristol, it means so much to me to pull on the blue and white hoops. We understand what a privilege it is to play sport professionally and there’s a collective responsibility from everyone in the squad to keep pushing forward and to get the job done this season.

We still have a long way to go, but we are building as a team and closing in on that place in the top four. In the time when we haven’t had a permanent forwards coach, the lads have stepped up and taken ownership of the set piece and it’s worked well. That area of our game is progressing well and it’ll be a dangerous weapon for us in the play-offs if it continues to click.

We won’t look further than the next game and that’s Ealing. We haven’t got many home games left in the regular season so we want to make every performance count in front of our fantastic crowd at Ashton Gate. The stadium is unbelievable and keeps growing every time we are down there. It’ll be an incredible place to play over the next two years and I’m excited to keep developing at my boyhood club.

Written by Joe Joyce - Joyce joined the Bristol Rugby Academy from Filton College ahead of the 2012/13 season, before making his first team debut last season. Click here to find out more about Joe on the Bristol Rugby website.

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Bristol Rugby face Ealing Trailfinders in the Greene King IPA Championship this Friday, February 12th (7.45pm) at Ashton Gate - tickets are still available to purchase online here.