They are the newboys in Aviva Premiership Rugby and face the daunting challenge of Harlequins first up at Twickenham in the London Double Header but Bristol Rugby No.8 Jordan Crane is determined to prove the doubters wrong.
After a seven-year absence for Bristol in the Championship, Crane is a man on a mission, hell-bent on delivering the goods against the Premiership’s biggest names this season.
Bristol’s season opens against five sides – Quins, Northampton Saints, Wasps, Exeter and Saracens – who go into the season with genuine title hopes.
But former Leicester Tiger, Crane, believes reputations and summer transfer business will count for very little when the season gets going – and is targeting a season full of big-name scalps for Bristol this season.
“You know what you’re getting with certain Premiership teams, but other teams’ consistency levels are different,” he said.
“It will take a few rounds to suss everyone out – and I’m sure teams will be looking at us and licking their lips, thinking they’re going to turn us over.
“But we’ve got a good team spirit and some good resilience, and hopefully that’s not going to be the case.
“It’s a great start for us and very much a fitting start for all the boys that have been here the last three or four years who have got Bristol into this position.
“It is an opportunity for us straight away to play at a huge stadium; everyone is excited about the Aviva Premiership and playing in it, but this is a special reward for the opening day of the season.
“It will be a huge day for the club and the supporters that have stuck by it as well.
“If we can really compete with every team, every week we play and stay in the Aviva Premiership this season, it will be a really successful season for us.”
Meanwhile Australian international James Horwill is relishing the opportunity to play in his first London Double Header for Harlequins – and revealed the buzz word at the Twickenham Stoop this season is ‘consistency’.
Horwill is convinced a gulf in class no longer exists in Aviva Premiership Rugby between those sides finishing in the top four and the teams in the bottom half of the table.
Quins learnt the hard way last season that on their day any team can beat a rival, and that’s the reason why Horwill is expecting a serious battle against Bristol.
“We saw last year that there wasn’t a lot between the teams, so we’ve got to take the opportunities as soon as we can,” he said.
“Points on the board are going to be massive and we’ve got a big start to the year. We’ve got Bristol, then two tough away games and a home clash with Saracens in round four, so getting off the mark is going to be crucial.
“It’s a big start to the season, we’ve got to start on the right note. We’ve got a lot of big-stadium experience in our team, we have to make sure that we’re not overawed by playing at Twickenham – playing Big Game there in what’s now our second home means it shouldn’t be an issue.
“While most of the personnel hasn’t changed, the way that the environment has changed has been significantly for the better which is exciting. We’ve done all the hard work, and now the real performances start with Bristol.”
Twickenham Stadium, 4.30pm – Live on BT Sport
Referee: Luke Pearce (52nd Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Greg Macdonald & Paul Dix.
TMO: Rowan Kitt.