Former Leicester academy man Hurrell, 26, took a roundabout route to the top via London Welsh, Stourbridge, Coventry and Doncaster before Bristol boss Andy Robinson took a punt on him after a pair of outstanding displays in May’s Championship final.
Robinson has since gone, but the determined Hurrell has rewarded his faith with a series of outstanding midfield displays that sees him leading the Premiership charts for turnovers and featuring highly in the number of carries and defenders beaten.
Hurrell, who before this season had made just one Premiership appearance for Leicester in 2009, told The Rugby Paper: “It’s gone a lot better than I ever thought it would and I’ve really enjoyed playing lots of top-flight rugby at this stage of my career.
“I just came in, tried to keep my head down, worked hard and pushed myself as much as I could and I think I’ve improved a bucket load since joining.
“Bristol’s coaches saw my drive and it’s nice to have been rewarded with the starting jersey every week. I’m happy that they’ve shown lots of faith in me.”
Of the Wales and Lions stars inspiring him, Hurrell said: “Dwayne Peel has worked exceptionally hard with me on my skills – passing, decision-making and footwork – and he’s really been challenging us as a team to come good at weekends.
“It’s his first year of coaching and he’s been very impressive, while Gavin has been very good for me in developing my game from a 12/13 perspective.
“Before last season I’d played almost exclusively on the wing, and then I got thrown in at 12 in the Championship with Doncaster. I’ve mainly been playing at 13 this year and it’s been a steep learning curve, but Gavin’s worked hard on my skills there.
“He’s not played as much as he’d like through injury, but his input has been vital and he’s such an experienced player who knows and reads the game so well. In attack he knows how to manipulate defenders and it’s been good to hear his opinions.”
Critical wins over Worcester and Sale mean Bristol now have genuine aspirations of avoiding the drop, but Hurrell knows the hard work has just begun.
He said: “Nobody at Bristol thinks it’s job done. Worcester bounced back by beating Harlequins while Sale will look for a response, so that just means we need to keep pushing and putting those sides under pressure in order to claw our way out.”
As for his new nickname, ‘The Turnover King’, Hurrell adds modestly: “The boys have been giving me some banter about sticking my head in rucks and those stats are all very nice.
“But I just try to work hard for the team every week and do my job.
“It’s great to get a little bit of recognition and my parents love it because they’re my biggest fans, but my focus is purely on winning the next game.”