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20 Questions: Matt Protheroe – Bristol full-back

How’s the move to Bristol going?

Really well thanks. I’m getting used to everything around the club especially with a new coach coming in but I’m fitting in nicely with the boys.

How did you go into your first day of training?

Bristol is only down the road from Gloucester but it still was pretty daunting to walk into a new environment. Luckily I knew a few of the boys from playing against them at school or international level.

Three of them came down from Gloucester with you, didn’t they?

Yes Dan Thomas, Joe Latta and Joe Batley made the move from Gloucester too so that made things slightly easier I guess. I’ve been here for six weeks now and it’s all going well.

What was the hardest thing to do when you arrived?

Learning all the new calls was tough but with Pat Lam coming in as new coach everyone was trying to do the same. We’ve worked hard to make sure we’re up to speed for the first game of the season against Hartpury College.

Looking forward to facing your old mates?

It’s going the first time I play against Hartpury rather than for them. I’ve had some great years there with some fond memories. But I’m a Bristol player now and I’ll give everything I can for them.

How many teams did you play for at Hartpury?

I played in the AASE team while at school and then the league team while on loan from Gloucester. We’ve enjoyed some great success there and I’ll cherish those memories.

What do you take from your two years at Gloucester?

I joined the first team straight from school which was a very difficult transition. I tried to learn as much as I could but it was a massive jump to make.

Any regrets?

No. It wasn’t easy but I relished the challenge. I loved learning from James Hook who I grew up watching on TV. The only thing was that I was now competing for his shirt and I struggled to get some game time.

Looking for game time in the Championship now?

That’s the plan. Bristol have signed some fantastic players and already had some very good players but I hope to be able to compete for the No.15 jersey.

Expecting to play full-back then?

Going forward I think full-back will be where I’m looking to settle down. I can also play fly-half and on the wing but full-back is where I enjoy my rugby the most.

What does Pat Lam expect from you?

He’s looking to install a great culture at the club where we’re whiling to give it a go. We all have to play from each other and expect high standards to make sure Bristol are successful.

Any hangover from last season’s relegation?

There’s been so many changes to the club and that brought a breath of fresh air to everyone. Bristol needed that and we’re heading in the right direction again.

How important will a fast start be if you want to return to the Premiership?

Everyone expects us to do well this season but it’s all about us and we need to hit the ground running. There’s no play-offs so it’s not about peaking in May. We have to take the season from the scruff of the neck and chase that top spot from the off.

Will we see your devastating running style in full flow this season?

That’s why Pat wanted me to come play for me. I still love to run from anywhere with the ball but I’ve learnt to pick my battles a bit more. I used to run all the time at school but I have tried to get the right balance between running and kicking while at Gloucester.

You had to learn the hard way, didn’t you?

I did! My first game for Gloucester was against Exeter and I fielded a kick down at Sandy Park. It was windy so I shaped to kick but went for the counter attack. The dummy didn’t work and I got smashed by either Olly Woodburn or Phil Dollman.

If not rugby, what would you be doing?

I’d have gone for PE teacher.

Favourite cheat meal?

I go to Gourmet Burger Kitchen a lot.

Three dinner guests?

Ed Sheeran, Danny Dyer and Russell Howard.

Best and worst banter at Bristol?

Scotsman Reiss Cullen is really bad unlike Callum Sheedy.

Best and worst dressed?

Worst would have to be my housemate Jordan Liney but best is Ryan Edwards.

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