Justin Blanchet: Bedford Blues hitting form at the right time
Justin Blanchet says that Bedford Blues are building up a head of steam at the right time
Nearly four months on from his IPA Greene King Championship debut, flanker Justin Blanchet is confident Bedford Blues are building up a head of steam at the right time.
French Canadian back row Blanchet was one of several arrivals at Bedford last summer, making the decision to leave Premiership side Exeter Chiefs.
The 21-year-old had already built a reputation for being a hard-tackling back rower with a series of impressive displays for the Chiefs and Exeter University but his immediate impact was limited by an injury picked up in pre-season.
His league debut finally arrived in their 25-20 win over Jersey on October 4 in what was the team’s second consecutive victory after opening their campaign with three defeats.
But Blanchet believes both he and the team are now starting to find their feet.
“I’ve really enjoyed these first six months. It was quite tough for me because I got injured during one of the preseason games so it was hard for me to establish myself but I’ve been playing the last few weeks,” he said.
“Bedford are renowned for their open, expansive style of play which I thought would really improve my game.
“It’s also quite a small squad so everyone’s closely knit and it’s just a really good family club, quite similar to Exeter in that way.
“The Championship is a very competitive league and you’ve got those older heads really teaching you lessons. The standard is quick, physical, everything you need.
“I think we’re in a good place at the minute, we’ve been building on some really good performances. “We started the season off a bit slower than we were expecting but it was likely to happen with the amount of changes that went on.
“I think we’ve been putting some really good performances together and we are really gelling now.”
Exeter Chiefs have long had a reputation for developing their young players with the likes of Jack Nowell going onto represent England while Blanchet’s brother Sam also plays for England Sevens.
And the flanker fully intends to take the knowledge gained down in the West Country with him as he looks to forge a career at Bedford Blues.
“I learnt so much with players of such quality that they are producing at Exeter, the likes of Henry Slade, Jack Nowell,” added Blancet.
“You learn a lot from people around you and the obviously the coaches as well. They are very meticulous with their preparations and you learn so much.
“It was such a great experience and I’ve applied what I’ve learnt there so doing my job here at Bedford.”
Formed in 2009, the Greene King IPA Championship is the second tier of professional rugby union in England. To keep up-to-date with all the latest news follow @ChampRugby on Twitter, or visitwww.rfu.com/championship