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

First topic message reminder :

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 stnick88 on Fri 24 Nov 2017, 10:42 am

the persistence with Petrus depresses me. every time he tries to ball carry he just flops down and slows down the move. if he was destroying scrums I would understand his inclusion, but he isn't at all, if anything he is getting worked over by the opposition loose head. Hoskins or Elrington offer so much more.

Having Coman back will help, he is our best forward and leads the defence. him and cowan seem to work well together as well.

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

Post by SirBurger on Fri 24 Nov 2017, 10:48 am

stnick88 wrote:the persistence with Petrus depresses me. every time he tries to ball carry he just flops down and slows down the move. if he was destroying scrums I would understand his inclusion, but he isn't at all, if anything he is getting worked over by the opposition loose head. Hoskins or Elrington offer so much more.

Having Coman back will help, he is our best forward and leads the defence. him and cowan seem to work well together as well.

Agree with all of that. Petrus has been diabolical, but Coman's return is probably the one thing I am positive about.

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

Post by geoff999rugby on Fri 24 Nov 2017, 10:55 am

Question I have for Irish fans - has anyone else started at lock other than

DeChaves and deMerwe

Every time I watch them they a re playing.
Seems they are being flogged and that joke tackle from deChaves last week may be a result of that.

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

Post by Ozzy3213 on Fri 24 Nov 2017, 11:13 am

Petrus continually starting is a mystery to us all.  I pray that he's not in the 23 announced in about an hours time as I've spent the past 3 or 4 Friday afternoons apoplectic over team selection generally, which in my opinion has been poor.
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Re: London Irish 2017/18 thread - Return to the Premiership.

Post by Ozzy3213 on Fri 24 Nov 2017, 11:14 am

geoff999rugby wrote:Question I have for Irish fans - has anyone else started at lock other than

DeChaves and deMerwe

Every time I watch them they a re playing.
Seems they are being flogged and that joke tackle from deChaves last week may be a result of that.

Geoff, I believe they have started 8 out of 12 games, but that includes playing the first 6 games of the season, so since then they've played at most twice in 6 weeks.
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Re: London Irish 2017/18 thread - Return to the Premiership.

Post by stnick88 on Fri 24 Nov 2017, 11:17 am

Hoskins is starting
PDP bench

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

Post by Ozzy3213 on Fri 24 Nov 2017, 11:22 am

Glad Hoskins is starting, not sure what Petrus is going to bring from the bench.  I'd have stuck Lovejoy on there.
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Re: London Irish 2017/18 thread - Return to the Premiership.

Post by SirBurger on Fri 24 Nov 2017, 11:32 am

geoff999rugby wrote:Question I have for Irish fans - has anyone else started at lock other than

DeChaves and deMerwe

Every time I watch them they a re playing.
Seems they are being flogged and that joke tackle from deChaves last week may be a result of that.

Yes, both have been ok, but on current form many would have McNally and Paulo ahead of them.

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

Post by stnick88 on Fri 24 Nov 2017, 11:39 am

I'd probably have McNally and Van De Merwe as my starting pair.
De Chaves on the bench.

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

Post by geoff999rugby on Fri 24 Nov 2017, 11:44 am

Thanks for the update.

Only watch the BT games, and sometimes the highlights, so obviously miss certain games

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

Post by SirBurger on Fri 24 Nov 2017, 12:10 pm

Sadly McNally out for a few months, which is a shame as he has been one of our best/only ball-carrying forwards.

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

Post by Ozzy3213 on Fri 24 Nov 2017, 12:53 pm

Given injuries and players on international duty it's pretty much the strongest (only) team we could put out this week.  Hopefully Coman being back, along with having McLean and Fergus in the centres will keep us solid enough for long enough that our back three can get some opportunities at the other end.
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Re: London Irish 2017/18 thread - Return to the Premiership.

Post by Margin_Walker on Sun 31 Dec 2017, 1:41 pm

Right then. Safe to say December didn't exactly go to plan. Can't see anything other than relegation following yesterday's game. Whilst there are still plenty of games left to pick up the wins required, I just don't see where they are coming from at the moment and Worcester (and even Northampton to a lesser extent) will pick up plenty more points.

For all the recriminations about the coaching team on the SN site, I just look at our squad and don't see them as being better than any other squad in the league. Worcester would be closest, but the majority of our notable players are into their 30s, with their best years behind them. Inexperienced coaching is certainly a factor, but with the playing resources available it's hard to really compete at this level.

There's a total lack of go forwards from the pack at the moment, that has a knock on impact on the rest of our play. Whilst the backline is lacking the quality and skillset to play the kind of rugby needed to rack up tries. Decent defensive shift from Williams yesterday, but it's a real shame that neither he, Fowlie or TBC has really kicked on so far. Hard to judge too much on Cokanasiga as he sees so little of the ball in space.

Assuming we go down and bounce back up (by no means a given), I can only see it getting harder to compete with the salary cap steadily rising Really does seem like a terminal decline at the moment, that can only really be arrested by new investment or getting lucky with ring fencing.

Not really sure what we do for the rest of the season. We've a run of games that could be winnable coming up in Feb before a brutal run in. They could change things at the top, chuck a few youngsters in, or keep hoping the hard work will pay off. On the positive side, Faingaa looked the part at the weekend, MNG added some much needed energy to the pack and Cokanasiga at least looked to have that searing pace back when chasing those kicks through. Parton is still looking sharp in the Championship and scored again at the weekend. Would be tempted to give him some gametime before the end of the season.

Edit - And the scrum is at least solid at the moment. Suspect Paulo playing has as much to do with this as the prop merry go round as he's a massive lump

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

Post by LondonTiger on Sun 31 Dec 2017, 1:45 pm

What is LI's financial situation? Can they survive a second relegation in 3 seasons?

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

Post by Margin_Walker on Sun 31 Dec 2017, 3:42 pm

LondonTiger wrote:What is LI's financial situation? Can  they survive a second relegation in 3 seasons?

I'm not really sure (we'll soon find out). Mick Crossan is a wealthy bloke compared to you and I, but not compared to most other owners in the league that are required to cover losses. They were openly touting for new investment to share the load 6 months ago and I'm sure that's ongoing.


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

Post by SirBurger on Sun 31 Dec 2017, 5:42 pm

LondonTiger wrote:What is LI's financial situation? Can  they survive a second relegation in 3 seasons?

As MW indicates, it is the million dollar question and nobody is really sure. When we last went down we were able to maintain the quality of the squad. I suspect this time around we would have to make more cuts than last time and just hope that we still have enough to fight off Ealing who are building a good squad.

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

Post by SirBurger on Sun 31 Dec 2017, 5:45 pm

Margin_Walker wrote:Right then. Safe to say December didn't exactly go to plan. Can't see anything other than relegation following yesterday's game. Whilst there are still plenty of games left to pick up the wins required, I just don't see where they are coming from at the moment and Worcester (and even Northampton to a lesser extent) will pick up plenty more points.

For all the recriminations about the coaching team on the SN site, I just look at our squad and don't see them as being better than any other squad in the league. Worcester would be closest, but the majority of our notable players are into their 30s, with their best years behind them. Inexperienced coaching is certainly a factor, but with the playing resources available it's hard to really compete at this level.

There's a total lack of go forwards from the pack at the moment, that has a knock on impact on the rest of our play. Whilst the backline is lacking the quality and skillset to play the kind of rugby needed to rack up tries. Decent defensive shift from Williams yesterday, but it's a real shame that neither he, Fowlie or TBC has really kicked on so far. Hard to judge too much on Cokanasiga as he sees so little of the ball in space.

Assuming we go down and bounce back up (by no means a given), I can only see it getting harder to compete with the salary cap steadily rising Really does seem like a terminal decline at the moment, that can only really be arrested by new investment or getting lucky with ring fencing.

Not really sure what we do for the rest of the season. We've a run of games that could be winnable coming up in Feb before a brutal run in. They could change things at the top, chuck a few youngsters in, or keep hoping the hard work will pay off. On the positive side, Faingaa looked the part at the weekend, MNG added some much needed energy to the pack and Cokanasiga at least looked to have that searing pace back when chasing those kicks through. Parton is still looking sharp in the Championship and scored again at the weekend. Would be tempted to give him some gametime before the end of the season.

Edit - And the scrum is at least solid at the moment. Suspect Paulo playing has as much to do with this as the prop merry go round as he's a massive lump

Good post MW. Really hard to see how we can stay up currently. However, am pretty sick of going on SN and seeing fans calling for Kennedy to be sacked. In a few years time he will be a top DOR. Like you say, we just don't have the squad of players to compete with the top clubs. I think a lot of fans tend to overrate our players and think they are better than they are. You sum up the problems accurately. Our best forwards have reached their peak and are now on the decline and our backs are consequently not getting the service they need. The ball-carrying issue has been long identified and yet we have done little to address it. It still baffles me but perhaps we just got unlucky in the transfer market. Anyway, praying for a miracle as it is certainly not clear to me that we have enough to survive. Not sure that Venter being more involved will solve anything, but let's hope so.


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

Post by Margin_Walker on Sun 31 Dec 2017, 8:22 pm

Agreed on the overrating of our players. Something it's always possible to be guilty of as we have a vested interest, but seeing people state on SN that we have a quality squad that would excel if we only cleared out the coaches and installed A.N Other, just doesn't hold any water for me.

I just don't see any value in getting rid of Kennedy unless there is a clear rationale behind it, not just whichever unrealistic (and in some cases unsuitable - Noves FFS...) candidate is out of work at the moment. Worst case scenario for me would be him leaving and the best of that 2016 U18 team that have come through with him following him out of the door.

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

Post by stnick88 on Tue 02 Jan 2018, 12:00 pm

hard to take any positives out of that Falcons game. We were clueless in attack, knocking on and throwing passes behind players so regularly is just not acceptable at this level. we competed ok upfront but tactically were completely outplayed. I'm sorry but Tonks should not be anywhere near the team. Get Bell back in. not that it will make much difference but I would like to see this team on Saturday.

1 Reid
2 Faingaa
3 Franks
4 De Chaves
5 Van Der Merwe
6 Coman
7 Northcote-Green
8 Treviranus
9 Steele
10 Marshall
11 Lewington
12 Williams
13 Tiks
14 Cokanasiga
15 Bell

16 Woolstencroft
17 Elrington
18 Hoskins
19 Paulo
20 Cowan
21 Meehan
22 Tonks
23 Fowlie

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

Post by SirBurger on Tue 09 Jan 2018, 10:44 am

Much improved performance on Saturday. Not sure it is sufficient to start saying that the tide has turned, as Leicester were underwhelming, but a strong showing coupled with a poor performance by Wuss and the news about the two Saffas does fill me with a touch more optimism. Cutting the gap to 9 points is a step in the right direction, but a shock result would have been hugely helpful as looking at the run-in I still think we will end up a couple short of Wuss:

Irish:

SALE SHARKS  4
Northampton Saints  1
WORCESTER WARRIORS  4
Wasps  0
GLOUCESTER RUGBY  4
Harlequins 1
EXETER CHIEFS  0
SARACENS 0
Bath Rugby 0

Total: 24

Wuss:

Exeter Chiefs 0
GLOUCESTER RUGBY 1
London Irish 1
LEICESTER TIGERS 1
Sale Sharks 1
NEWCASTLE FALCONS 1
Wasps 0
HARLEQUINS 1
Northampton Saints 1

Total: 26

Even that analysis requires Wuss to fail to beat Glos, Newcastle or Quins at home, all of whom are fairly poor travellers, whilst requiring us to beat Glos. Obviously bonus points would help massively, but I haven’t seen enough from our attack to suggest that we can pick them up even against Wuss or Sale. However, a few weeks ago I wouldn’t have even seen the merit in such an analysis. Now, I think, at last there is hope. What is pleasing is it looked like certain individuals stepped up against Leicester and have realised what is on the line and in fact it is hard to find fault in anyone’s performance. Most pleasing was probably Faingaa, who might not be the strongest carrier but he is solid at the set piece and really puts his body on the line in defence. Great to have someone to keep Paice company and it was also good to see Treviranus operating at his best. Being able to rotate him with Botha (or even combine them for the last 20 of some games) will be very helpful.

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

Post by stnick88 on Tue 09 Jan 2018, 11:15 am

Cowan also played well, so the backrow is looking better now with Botha for competition.
We need Van Zyl to be a good so he can get the backs moving and boss the forwards more than the other 9's do.

Saints away is a game we have to target. they are on poor form and without lawes and Hartley their forwards are there for the taking.

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

Post by SirBurger on Tue 09 Jan 2018, 11:49 am

stnick88 wrote:Cowan also played well, so the backrow is looking better now with Botha for competition.
We need Van Zyl to be a good so he can get the backs moving and boss the forwards more than the other 9's do.

Saints away is a game we have to target. they are on poor form and without lawes and Hartley their forwards are there for the taking.

Yes, forgot that Saints was during 6N. Hartley no great loss at club level, but Lawes will be a blow. Win that one and I think we have a real chance.

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

Post by Heaf on Tue 09 Jan 2018, 11:50 am

The trouble if we end up just a few points short of Wuss is that I will get even more bitter and twisted about the clear and obvious forward pass for Bath's single try in that narrow loss and the blatant obstruction in the lead up to Tigers' first try in that one ...

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

Post by stnick88 on Tue 09 Jan 2018, 12:12 pm

yeh but I am sure Worc will have had some dodgy decisions as well. can't blame individual ref errors like that. same for all teams.

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

Post by Scottrf on Tue 09 Jan 2018, 12:19 pm

If you believe the people who stand around me at the Gardens, the ref is to blame for most of our losses.

Truth is, when you are playing badly, you give the opportunity for calls to be made against you.

Easier for a forwards pass to be missed leading to a try when you miss two tackles beforehand. It looks like the other team gets all the calls if they make all of the opportunities.

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

Post by Heaf on Tue 09 Jan 2018, 1:22 pm

I didn't say I was being logical Wink

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