Budgett agrees new contract to remain with Bristol
PAUL Hull has confirmed that Bristol have agreed terms with lock Nathan Budgett over a new contract to stay at the Memorial Stadium.
The veteran Welshman was one of three players – the others being Junior Fatialofa and Adrian Jarvis – who had not agreed revised terms prior to Sunday's Championship opener against Rotherham.
But the 34-year-old, who is set to return from injury next month, has now come to an agreement with Bristol over a contract for the remainder of the season.
All of Bristol's players have had to renegotiate their existing deals following the club's failure to win promotion at the end of the last season, essentially meaning every player will be out of contract again next summer.
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But Budgett's decision to re-sign is another boost for head coach Hull as he edges closer to completing his squad for the long-haul Championship campaign.
"Budgett has agreed terms now, and Fatialofa and Jarvis have been talking to (chief executive) Steve Gorvett again this week," said Hull.
"They are still talking and they have had meetings this week. It was an early start with the league fixtures kicking off in August and a lot of stuff has been going on; people have been very busy.
"These things can take a bit of time but Junior and Adrian have been speaking with Steve, so hopefully that will now progress nicely.
"With Junior being injured during pre-season, he just wanted to get himself fit and tick one box at a time. He has done that now, so hopefully he can move forward with the rest of it."
Fatialofa has finally shaken off the Achilles problem that kept him out of both of Bristol's pre-season fixtures and last weekend's 26-24 defeat to the Titans.
He has been named in Hull's initial 24-man squad to face Esher at the Pillar Data Arena on Saturday – but is unlikely to feature after only returning to full training this week.
"Junior is back with us, which is a positive, although he hasn't got that match fitness yet," said Hull. "He has looked sharp in training, though, and we are really pleased to have him back available for selection."
Prop Mark Irish, whose late departure through injury on Sunday led to farcical scenes at the Memorial Stadium, has been ruled out of Saturday's game with a neck problem.
It initially appeared as if the loosehead had damaged his wrist, but Hull said: "Iro is very stiff in the neck region and, while it's nothing too serious, he won't be fit to play this weekend. He's had a scan and will see a specialist on Monday, but we're hopeful it will just be one of things that keeps him out for a short while."
Bristol's medical team are continuing to assess No 8 Dan Montagu, who went off at half-time with a neck injury on Sunday.
"Dan trained today and he is getting a lot better with every 24 hours," said Hull. "Hopefully he will be ready to go this weekend."
Captain Iain Grieve, a notable absentee for the Rotherham match as he was attending his sister's wedding, will return.
Bristol (from) – Backs: J Tovey, S Marsden, D Norton, J Gadd, J Adams, J Fatialofa, E Barnes, A Jarvis, N Little, S Alford, R Bolt. Forwards: M Vunipola, B Moss, W Thompson, O Hayes, D Blaney, B Glynn, R Winters, M Sambucetti, D Barry, J Miller, I Grieve, J Merriman, D Montagu.