Harry Thacker: England hooker is in All Black mould, says Bristol boss Lam

Bristol Bears' Harry Thacker in action
Harry Thacker has played a key role in helping Bristol secure their Premiership status

Bristol's in-form hooker Harry Thacker would be in contention for All Blacks selection if he were a New Zealander, according to his boss Pat Lam.

Englishman Thacker has been instrumental in Bristol securing their Premiership status, scoring the winning try at Leicester last weekend.

Lam feels his style of rugby would suit the world's best team.

He said: "I have no doubt Harry would be in the interest of Steve Hansen and New Zealand rugby, the way he plays."

Thacker, 25, who joined Bristol in 2018 from Leicester Tigers, told BBC Sport after Saturday's win over his former club that: "Mentally its been a big release playing week in week out at Bristol. A change in lifestyle for me and the family.

"It's allowed me to play some of the best rugby I've played and a style that suits me. It allows me to express myself."

Lam told the Rugby Union Weekly podcast he is in constant contact with England head coach Eddie Jones and forwards coach Steve Borthwick over the prospect of his players stepping up to international level.

"I have had conversations with Eddie and Borths - there has been a really good relationship there," he said.

"Piers O'Connor is another young guy who has been outstanding this season and is absolutely coachable.

"Then there are Andy Uren and Harry Randall, the two young nines, who have been superb. And the more [fly-half] Callum Sheedy plays as well, the more all those guys will come through."

Lam says he hopes to emulate the example of Saracens, where a number of academy graduates have forged long careers at the club, earning international recognition along the way.

"What I am excited by - and you look at teams such as Saracens - is trying to grow guys," Lam added.

"I want them here six, seven, eight, nine years and celebrating their 200th game for the club.

"That is when we are going to be really humming, when we have a core group of guys all coming through."

Meanwhile, Bristol have confirmed that 11 players will exit the club at the end of the season.

Among them is veteran Australia back row George Smith, who will reach the end of his one-year deal at Ashton Gate in the summer.

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