London Irish 2017/18 thread - Return to the Premiership.

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London Irish 2017/18 thread - Return to the Premiership.

Post by Ozzy3213 on Wed 30 Aug 2017, 8:02 pm

Welcome to this seasons thread for talking about all things London Irish.

Technical Director: Brendan Venter
Director of Rugby: Nick Kennedy

Forwards Coach: George Skivington

Defence Coach: Declan Danaher
Attack/Skills Coach: Paul Hodgson
Kicking Coach: Charlie Hodgson

Senior Squad (46)

Hooker: David Paice, Saia Fainga'a, David Porecki, Darren Dawidiuk, Todd Gleave 
Prop: Gordon Reid, Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi, Tom Smallbone, Harry Elrington, Ben Franks, Petrus du Plessis, Lovely Chawatama, Manasa Saulo, Richard Palframan, Ollie Hoskins
Second Row: Sebastien de Chaves, Will Lloyd, Josh McNally, Teofilo Paulo, Franco van der Merwe
Back Row: Blair Cowan, Ofisa Treviranus, Jake Schatz, Connor Gilsenen, Lasha Lomidze, Mike Coman, Max Northcote-Green, Senitiki Nayalo

Scrum Half: Brendan McKibbin, Scott Steele, Ben Meehan
Fly Half: James Marshall, Theo Brophy-Clews
Centre: Johnny Williams, Fergus Mulchrone, Ciaran Hearn, Luke McLean
Wing: Alex Lewington, Joe Cokanasiga, Napolioni Nalaga, Aseli Tikoroituma, Topsy Ojo, Ben Ransom, Tom Fowlie
Full Back: Tommy Bell, Greig Tonks


Senior Academy Squad (10)

Lock: Sam Collingridge
Back Row: Isaac Curtis-Harris, Jack Cooke, Josh Basham
Scrum Half: Rory Brand
Fly Half: Jacob Atkins
Centre: Matt Williams
Wing: Ollie Hassell-Collins, Ben Loader
Full Back: Tom Parton


Preview

It's pretty hard to judge this London Irish squad against the teams that it will face this season, as being newly promoted there is no recent physical evidence with which to make a comparison.  What we can say is that during our last season in the Premiership we were not good enough, that is an indisputable fact.

Much however has changed since then.  Tom Coventry left and in his place stepped up Nick Kennedy as Director of Rugby, with his able deputies from the academy, Declan Danaher and Paul Hodgson alongside him.  Whilst this coaching set up was inexperienced, the man brought in to oversea things was certainly not.  Step forward Brendan Venter as technical director.  Now much has been said about a change in culture at Irish last season but you have to do more than just scratch the surface of names on a piece of paper to understand what that means, and in many regards it is difficult to quantify.

Midway through last season however I was fortunate enough to chat to one of the players, who shall remain nameless, but who told me this.  He said that under the Coventry regime your face either fitted or it didn't.  If you were not in the inner circle there was blame and criticism but little in the way of encouragement or assistance to improve.  Now however he said that the coaches were open and there was dialogue between them and the players, and Venter, whilst fierce and a force of nature who would tell you exactly what you had done wrong in a game, was also approachable and would listen to your viewpoint, and help you to improve from any mistakes you did make, and that honesty and openness was now a feature throughout the squad and coaches.  That, I have to say is a significant shift in mindset and that almost freedom to make mistakes without being paralysed by the fear of failure may be a key factor once this season gets underway.

On paper, which is all we can go by until we see this side play, the squad is stronger than when we went down, and stronger than when we won the Championship in May.  Recruitment, wisely in my opinion has been more forward focused than backs, with a 9-3 split in that regard, including experienced campaigners Petrus du Plessis (from Saracens) and Franco van der Merwe (from Ulster via Cardiff), alongside international front rowers Gordon Reid and Saia Faingaa.  Neither Venter nor Kennedy are daft, our season will not be defined by whether we are able to chuck the ball about at will, we will stand or fall on whether we can gain parity or better up front often enough to pick up points.  To that end, our most important back this year is not likely to be the expansive James Marshall or explosive Napolioni Nalaga, but the metronomic Tommy Bell, who racked up the points from tee in The Championship and will need to do so again in the Premiership this year.

There isn't really much more to say, we just don't know until the first ball is kicked what we are going to get.  My general thoughts on the Premiership are that Sarries, Wasps, Chiefs, Bath and Tigers are in a league of five competing for the four play off spots, and the remaining seven teams are all fairly even, with all having the positives, but all having some major weaknesses that could be exploited by the others.  What order those seven (us included) finish in is anybodies guess, and luck, injuries and momentum will play a part.  We need to start better than we did two years ago when we picked up zero points from our first five matches, if we can get some early momentum, then who knows, a decent mid table finish may not be out of the question.

Prediction:  Anywhere from 6th to 12th!
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Re: London Irish 2017/18 thread - Return to the Premiership.

Post by George Carlin on Thu 31 Aug 2017, 6:45 am

Completely agree that you should have parity with the chasing pack Ozzy and I also agree that the overall squad is stronger now. Goal should be to win all of your home matches and find a halfback hinge that delivers week in, week out. The pack should give you a reasonable platform and then it comes down to finding combinations that work and players who like each other.

Good luck brother.
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Re: London Irish 2017/18 thread - Return to the Premiership.

Post by Ozzy3213 on Thu 31 Aug 2017, 4:06 pm

Thanks George.


Franco van der Merwe finally confirmed officially.....  http://www.london-irish.com/news/london-irish-sign-springbok-lock/bp1474/
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Re: London Irish 2017/18 thread - Return to the Premiership.

Post by Ozzy3213 on Fri 01 Sep 2017, 12:38 pm

https://bikesballsandwellbeing.wordpress.com/2017/09/01/london-irish-vs-harlequins-match-preview/

Match preview for the Quins game.
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Re: London Irish 2017/18 thread - Return to the Premiership.

Post by Driver on Fri 01 Sep 2017, 2:40 pm

Good luck to all my London Irish supporting friends this season except for them trips to the north east.

Bought really well from the looks of things.
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Re: London Irish 2017/18 thread - Return to the Premiership.

Post by Ozzy3213 on Sun 03 Sep 2017, 9:54 pm

cheers Driver, good luck to your lads as well mate.


https://bikesballsandwellbeing.wordpress.com/2017/09/03/london-irish-stats-ratings-match-report-vs-harlequins/

Match report of sorts written by me if anyone fancies a read.
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Re: London Irish 2017/18 thread - Return to the Premiership.

Post by George Carlin on Mon 04 Sep 2017, 5:39 am

Irish win!
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Re: London Irish 2017/18 thread - Return to the Premiership.

Post by Ozzy3213 on Mon 04 Sep 2017, 8:40 am

We did indeed George. Very happy with that result, and the performance. It wasn't perfect, but it was a level up from anything we produced in our relegation season.
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Re: London Irish 2017/18 thread - Return to the Premiership.

Post by Hazel Sapling on Mon 04 Sep 2017, 11:26 am

Generally looks like you rated the Scots who played. Is Tonks likely to be playing more 10 or 15 this season?

Is Reid going to be first choice going into the season or is this more there are 2 good looseheads rotating?

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Re: London Irish 2017/18 thread - Return to the Premiership.

Post by Ozzy3213 on Mon 04 Sep 2017, 11:38 am

Hazel Sapling wrote:Generally looks like you rated the Scots who played. Is Tonks likely to be playing more 10 or 15 this season?

Is Reid going to be first choice going into the season or is this more there are 2 good looseheads rotating?

Tonks will be 2nd choice at 10 and 15 for now with Theo Brophy-Clews injured. Once he's fit he will be vying for the 10 jersey and we may see Tonks more at full back. That said he was excellent at 12 on Saturday, although I don't expect to see him playing there a huge amount.

Reid will have to fight for the starting jersey. Hobbs-Awoyemi was very good for us last year and played really well on Saturday, and Kendo has said that the new guys will have to earn their spots. I would imagine as the season goes on they will rotate a fair bit to keep them fresh, as behind them it's a bit of step down to a young and improving Harry Elrington, and a just returning from a year out injured Tom Smallbone (has the potential to be very good but had a serious injury so we just don't know what he's going to be like).
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Re: London Irish 2017/18 thread - Return to the Premiership.

Post by RDW_Scotland on Wed 13 Sep 2017, 2:00 pm

Good afternoon London Irish fans!

A group of us are considering coming to the London Irish-Edinburgh game in October (we live in London).

Any recommendations for where to sit, how to get to the stadium, good nearby boozers etc?

Thanks!

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Re: London Irish 2017/18 thread - Return to the Premiership.

Post by Heaf2 on Wed 13 Sep 2017, 9:09 pm

Hi RDW,

You get a decent view from all seats in the stadium but my preference would be the West or East stands as they are 'side-on' to the pitch (and depending on numbers they may not open both other stands anyway). Obviously the nearer the half-way line the better and then it's whether you prefer to be up higher for the overall view (in which case I'd say Upper West) or nearer the action - but if you are in the Lower West stand I'm not sure you'd be undercover from about rows L/M down if it rains. Not sure about the East stand as I've never been on that side.

Assuming you're coming by train there's a shuttle bus from Reading station and a decent pub (so I've heard as I've not been in there) near the station is The Three Guineas. There are bars once you get in the stadium plus in the attached hotel but no pubs particularly near the stadium.

Cheers

Heaf

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Re: London Irish 2017/18 thread - Return to the Premiership.

Post by Heaf2 on Wed 13 Sep 2017, 9:13 pm

PS any idea what 'suspicious activity' was detected that resulted in my previous account being locked and why that stupid type-the-word thing doesn't work to unlock it chin

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Re: London Irish 2017/18 thread - Return to the Premiership.

Post by George Carlin on Thu 14 Sep 2017, 5:47 am

Heaf2 wrote:PS any idea what 'suspicious activity' was detected that resulted in my previous account being locked and why that stupid type-the-word thing doesn't work to unlock it  chin
You weren't rude about Gareth Edwards were you? It's a lifetime ban if you do that.
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Re: London Irish 2017/18 thread - Return to the Premiership.

Post by Heaf2 on Thu 14 Sep 2017, 12:38 pm

Nope I'm the model of good behaviour Wink

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Re: London Irish 2017/18 thread - Return to the Premiership.

Post by Smudge21 on Sun 17 Sep 2017, 10:11 pm

A couple of tough games recently. This week is huge against northampton as these are the games at home that we need to be competitive in. Any news on the injuries from Friday night?

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Re: London Irish 2017/18 thread - Return to the Premiership.

Post by Ozzy3213 on Mon 18 Sep 2017, 10:53 am

It certainly has been a tough couple of games Smudge, but I’m not hitting the panic button just yet. I said at the start of the season that we would know where we are at after 5 games. I had us down for a best case scenario of 5 points at this point and that is what we have. If we are still on five points in two games time I will be concerned as that would be behind where I forecast us to be.

What was evident on Friday night was that Sale had worked out our defensive system, and threw long miss passes early to exploit space on the outside and make yards. The coaching team will need to be looking at what we do and possibly tweaking it to make us more solid again. This weekend is huge. Saints responded positively to their drubbing by Saracens and have bagged two very good wins at home. We need to be up and at it from the off, and get on the scoreboard early to settle the nerves, which will then hopefully stop some of the knock ons that resulted from trying to force the play when we were behind on Friday.

Injury wise, I’ve no idea what we look like, but Hobbs-Awoyemi and Coman will be big losses, as was shown on Friday night, if they are not available.
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Re: London Irish 2017/18 thread - Return to the Premiership.

Post by Smudge21 on Mon 18 Sep 2017, 4:14 pm

Fingers crossed reid is fit as although I rate Elrington highly I'm not sure he's ready to start prem games yet. Coman is a big concern as he seems to be one of the defensive leaders of the team and with mulchrone already sidelined it's not looking good. Hopefully Johnny is back at 12 or potentially tonks at 12 and Johnny at 13?
Northampton will get it out wide I'm sure having seen what sale did to us so let's hope the coaches have adjusted the tactics

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Re: London Irish 2017/18 thread - Return to the Premiership.

Post by EWT Spoons on Mon 18 Sep 2017, 4:22 pm

Smudge21 wrote:Fingers crossed reid is fit as although I rate Elrington highly I'm not sure he's ready to start prem games yet. Coman is a big concern as he seems to be one of the defensive leaders of the team and with mulchrone already sidelined it's not looking good. Hopefully Johnny is back at 12 or potentially tonks at 12 and Johnny at 13?
Northampton will get it out wide I'm sure having seen what sale did to us so let's hope the coaches have adjusted the tactics  

According to a Scottish journalist, who is generally pretty reliable, Reid is out for 3 months due to it being his 3rd concussion of the year. He's been rated doubtful for Scotland's autumn tests.

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Re: London Irish 2017/18 thread - Return to the Premiership.

Post by Smudge21 on Mon 18 Sep 2017, 5:03 pm

Bugger! I guess Elrington is going to have to step up to the plate with smallbone on the bench to ease him back into things after his injury

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Re: London Irish 2017/18 thread - Return to the Premiership.

Post by SirBurger on Mon 18 Sep 2017, 5:16 pm

That's a massive loss on top of Danny being out. Bugger indeed!

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