Bristol Rugby may have lost their first two games this season, but lock Ian Evans insists their tenacity and determination will soon right that wrong despite a daunting fixture list.
The promoted side opened the new Aviva Premiership Rugby campaign with a narrow 21-19 defeat to Harlequins, before Northampton Saints eased to a 32-10 victory at Ashton Gate last weekend.
A tough trip to in-form Wasps on Sunday is followed by back-to-back home clashes with last season’s runners-up Exeter Chiefs and champions Saracens.
But Evans, who played his first game of the season against Northampton, is encouraged by their start and is relishing the opportunity to play the division’s most fancied teams in quick succession.
“I am happy with the way we have reacted in every game. We have not rolled over and we have not thrown the towel in, so I am happy with that. Hiding is not our thing. We want respect and we will get it,” he said.
“We know what we are going to face in Wasps – they are the top team so far. Last season and this season they have been very good.
“We faced them in pre-season and it was a tough game, but I am sure we earned their respect.
“I think this is the toughest run any promoted team has ever had. It has been a hard run but that is Aviva Premiership Rugby for you, there are no easy games and we understand that.
“Now we have to adjust and get on with winning games quickly – which I am sure we will.
“Saracens and Exeter follow that. Saracens are champions but we look forward to it. When you play in this division, you have to relish every second.”
Evans, who toured with The British & Irish Lions to Australia three years ago, moved to Bristol in 2014 after a move to Toulon fell through.
And he admits it will take him a few games to adjust to the standard despite having played at the very top of the game.
“The gap is huge, mainly in a physical way,” he said.
“The pace of the game is much different to the Championship, everything happens at a higher rate of knots. You are always under pressure and it is about executing under pressure.
“I enjoyed the game. I was very pleased with the performance and it is something to build on now going forwards.
“It was a great atmosphere in front of 11,000 for the first home game of the season against the Saints. When they get going it gives everyone a massive lift.
“I need to get some consistency into my game now. It was not easy to slip back into the top level after a couple of years away, but I knew what was coming and so that helps.”