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Luke Arscott: Jason Woodward’s influence at Bristol Rugby is far-reaching

NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 07:  Jason Woodward of Bristol Rugby runs in to score a try  during the Aviva Premiership match between Northampton Saints and Bristol Rugby at Franklin's Gardens on January 7, 2017 in Northampton, England.  (Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)

Full-back Jason Woodward may be absent when Bristol Rugby line up against Bath Rugby on Friday but Luke Arscott insists his influence reaches far beyond the pitch.

As well as igniting the Bristol backline in recent weeks, in particular the form of Tom Varndell who has five tries in seven Aviva Premiership Rugby games, Woodward’s positive mentality has been far-reaching.

But the 26-year-old won’t be available for Bristol’s vital European Challenge Cup game against Bath after a knock to the head in Bristol’s 32-26 defeat at Northampton Saints.

Despite the setback, Arscott promised Woodward’s attacking mindset, he scored 21 points for his side in the weekend’s defeat, will be taken on by the squad.

“Woodward’s been brilliant not just on the pitch but around the club and in meetings, he’s a good guy to have around,” Arscott said.

“He’s been pretty influential all over the club with his ideas and southern hemisphere mindset. It’s just a lot of positivity, he wants to attack a lot in the way he plays and you can see that.

“The other boys have bought into that. The person who has benefitted the most is Tom Varndell, he’s scoring tries off his breaks.

“They have been brilliant together, they link up very well, and it’s been a great effort from them and the rest of the back line.”

This weekend will be the third meeting this season between the West Country rivals with Bath Rugby taking the spoils 22-6 and 16-9 earlier this season both times at The Rec.

Friday’s meeting will be their first of the year at Ashton Gate and after back-to-back victories against Pau in December, Bristol are in with a chance of qualification from Pool 4.

They trail both Bath and Cardiff Blues by three points and while Arscott admits the atmosphere in the local derby is special, the squad isn’t treating the game any differently to normal.

“We have not talked about the change of competition we are taking each game as it comes,” he said.

“Obviously it’s a derby which is a massive occasion for us and the fans. We owe them a favour after they stuck with us at the start of the season.

“It’s a completely unique feeling really its two teams with massive histories and pressure and the fans adds to it as well.

“It’s a massive game and everyone wants to put in a massive performance.”

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