Peter Buxton's presence will be a great benefit to the team, insists Marco Mama
MARCO Mama has welcomed Bristol's signing of Gloucester back-rower Peter Buxton – and is eager to learn from the veteran forward.
Bristol yesterday confirmed they will sign 34-year-old Buxton – who has played 269 times for Gloucester – this summer.
And while 21-year-old Mama will be in direct competition with Buxton for the Bristol No 6 shirt, he is relishing the prospect of picking up tips from the experienced flanker.
Buxton has played 178 times in the Premiership, as well as 42 times in the Heineken Cup – and Mama said: "He will provide us with a fair bit of experience, because he's spent a lot of time and played a lot of games for Gloucester.
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"It all adds to the competition in the back row. We've already got six or seven quality back-rowers here and he will come in and add even more quality. It just shows what the club is looking to build for next season and beyond."
Mama has played in all three back-row positions for Bristol in his brief career in the first team – and he expects to benefit from a man who has appeared in two Premiership finals.
"With guys like Peter Buxton, you've just got to learn off them – especially for a young player like myself," said Mama.
"He's going to have a lot to say and he's going to have a lot to show. So for a player like me, trying to develop my game and progress as much as I can, I'm sure he'll be able to provide me with a couple of tips here or there that might help me."
Some Bristol supporters may be concerned by the prospect of recruiting a player approaching the end of his career.
But head coach Liam Middleton has no doubts whatsoever about Buxton's fitness or durability – or the impact he can make at Bristol.
"He is a tough player and very durable – he has played pretty much 25 games as season for a top Premiership side for the past ten years," said Middleton.
"From my perspective, age isn't an issue. In the professional game, the training methods are more effective and players can enjoy longer careers, plus Bucko has such a professional attitude.
"He has certainly got another few years left in him – and Roy Winters is a good example of that. I'm confident Bucko will come in and add a lot to our group when he arrives."
Bristol, who have not played since beating Leeds on January 25, host Rotherham at the Memorial Stadium on Sunday.
They lost ground on the top four when their match against Moseley was postponed at the weekend and are now three points adrift of the play-off places.
But Mama said the only way they will get back there is to take a week-by-week approach to making up the points deficit. The long-term goal this season is to make the top four – there's no hiding that," said Mama. "But the way you go about it is to look week by week. You can't afford to take your eye off the ball or look too far ahead, because you'll lose the game in front of you. "