Magnus Bradbury is in his second season with Bristol Bears in the Gallagher Premiership and after impressing at Ashton Gate in 2022/23, he is looking to build on his individual plus points from last year.
"It’s a chat I have had with Pat [Lam] about kicking on as first season it’s easy to be excited and up for everything," Bradbury says. "I’ve been around the block long enough to know that a second season is more important."
That will be music to Lam's ears as Bristol collectively want to improve after a couple of disappointing campaigns. Tenth and ninth-place finishes in the last two years are a far cry from when the Bears topped the table in 2020/21, but the West Country outfit have begun this term strongly with two wins from their opening three games.
Bradbury has also done the same. He has started all three matches and scored twice in their 33-27 victory over Northampton Saints in Round Two. The back-rower is once again showing his quality and some will feel he was unlucky to miss out on Scotland's World Cup squad.
"If it happens it happens, but if it doesn’t it’s not the end of the world but obviously, I’d love to be back in there," Bradbury says when asked if being part of Scotland's plans for next year's Six Nations had entered his thoughts.
For now, the 28-year-old seems fully focused on Bristol: "I’ve played a couple of times for Scotland and it’s always an honour, but it’s been club first. That’s how I operated at Edinburgh as well and then any time you get selected, it’s a bonus."
Bringing it back to 'club first', Bradbury commented on how Bristol seem to be a different side to that of last season, with the Bears sitting in third place and one point behind early table-toppers Bath.
"I think the mindset shift, it’s pretty much the same game plan with just a couple of changes," he says. "Just the way everyone’s on the same page, I think we know when we deliver our game plan we can put any team away and it’s trying to get that consistency that we have strived for throughout pre-season, and then first three games of the season we have seen that in abundance."
After opening their account with victories over Leicester Tigers and Northampton, a late Jarrod Evans penalty saw Harlequins snatch a 23-21 victory away from Bristol last week so Lam's troops will be looking to get back to winning ways this Sunday against Exeter Chiefs.
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They visit Sandy Park with the hosts having already blown away both of last year's finalists - Saracens and Sale - in their past two home games.
"It’s an exciting challenge, a physical team, which for me is the games I like," Bradbury adds. "As a forward pack, we are licking our lips as it’s going to be a physical battle up front.
The Bears have made five changes to the starting line-up, including a full swap of the front-row. A name that remains in the backs is star summer signing Virimi Vakatawa, who scored his first try for Bristol last time out.
Bradbury spoke on what kind of an impact his new team-mate could have at Sandy Park on Sunday: "He should be very handy. I've seen his highlight reels over the last few years and to see how effective he can be, but the backs won’t be able to play like that if the forwards aren’t going well so in a way it puts more pressure on us if we can’t give him the platform to get into the game."
If Bristol manage to continue their impressive start to the season with a victory over the Chiefs, and other results go their way, they could end the weekend at the summit of the Premiership.
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