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 Wed 14 Feb 2018, 10:19 am

1. Hobbs-Awoyemi
2. Faingaa
3. Hoskins
4. Van der Merwe
5. McNally
6. Coman
7. Northcote-Green
8. Curtis-Harris

9. Steele
10. Tonks
11. Loader
12. Brophy-Clews
13. Fowlie
14. Ransom
15. Parton

Tonks is definitely not the answer at 10. Also, think we should persist with JW at 12 and TBC at 10.
We've really missed Hobbs and McNally. no nonsense players that both carry well and get through a lot of work.

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

Post by SirBurger on Wed 14 Feb 2018, 10:50 am

stnick88 wrote:1. Hobbs-Awoyemi
2. Faingaa
3. Hoskins
4. Van der Merwe
5. McNally
6. Coman
7. Northcote-Green
8. Curtis-Harris

9. Steele
10. Tonks
11. Loader
12. Brophy-Clews
13. Fowlie
14. Ransom
15. Parton

Tonks is definitely not the answer at 10. Also, think we should persist with JW at 12 and TBC at 10.
We've really missed Hobbs and McNally. no nonsense players that both carry well and get through a lot of work.

Yes, agreed on those two forwards. Would make a massive difference to the pack.

TBC just doesn't have the kicking game for me and pretty sure JW will be off if we get relegated.

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

Post by stnick88 on Wed 14 Feb 2018, 11:00 am

I'm not sure JW has done anything to warrant any big clubs poaching him. has potential but not exactly set the league on fire. another year of regular rugby at 12 will do him good.

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

Post by SirBurger on Sun 18 Feb 2018, 8:51 am

So last week I thought we were done, but woke up yesterday and decided to give it one more week. Good start to the game, but even at 14-3 up at half time it was so predictable what was going to happen. Unfortunately this is a psychologically weak side and the coaches have to take some responsibility for that. I am now really worried about the future of the club as a second relegation in three years will take its toll. I am not sure what the solution is but number one for me is to start playing the youngsters. I mean really, would Matt Williams at 12 have done any worse than Luke McLean yesterday? My second wish is that we cut all of the journeymen that we signed last year and the year before and focus on EQP youngsters that can be supplemented with quality if/when we get promoted back to the Premiership.

Coaches to stay or go? I have no idea on that one...

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

Post by Margin_Walker on Sun 18 Feb 2018, 9:51 am

Definitely a depressing season. We're not far off, but miles away at the same time. Not getting blown away (apart from ten minute spells...), but a long way off the teams immediately above us.

Not a lot of options at 12 to be fair with Williams, TBC and Mulchrone presumably injured. Matt Williams went off in the Eng U20 game the week before with a bad looking arm/shoulder injury. Not that he would have been picked for this anyway. That said, McLean was always an odd signing. Agree on the journeymen and at least now we know we are recruiting for the Championship, so can concentrate on that. Need to focus on Danny HA, MNG, McNally type signings.

Would definitely like us to concentrate on players that will be here next season (apart from Lewington, who doesn't deserve to be sidelined). That said I'm not sure I'd be chucking the U20s guys in just yet. Would probably be better for them to be part of a successful environment until the end of the U20s 6N, then perhaps look at AP debuts in the final run of games for Loader, Williams, Parton and Brand. Assuming their injuries aren't too bad as the first three all went off (or pulled out before the game) last week.

Really not sure on the coaches. It would depend hugely on who they are being replaced by. Also conscious that the younger guys will have a fair bit of loyalty to them having been brought through the academy by that team. Not that that should necessarily be a valid reason to stick with something that isn't working. Really not sure who the realistic options to come in would be. If someone like Lee Blackett fancied taking it on, I'd be all for a change.

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

Post by SirBurger on Sun 18 Feb 2018, 12:08 pm

Sorry, had forgotten about M.Williams and his injury.

Agree with all that.

Interesting piece in TRP today with Nigel Melville who heavily suggests that relegation will cease next season for a period of time. Hopefully that doesn't mean promotion will stop as well. He also talks about Championship coaches like Harvey Biljon or Gavin Cattle who deserve a chance at a bigger club. Could do worse than one of those guys coming in to sit under Kennedy. Think the Venter experiment should be ended.

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

Post by Margin_Walker on Sun 18 Feb 2018, 8:39 pm

Wouldn't surprise me to see some movement in coaching staff and a fresh perspective wouldn't go amiss. Agree on Venter. It's not worked and often adds a bit of confusion to who is calling the shots when he's in town.

Saw the article in TRP. I think the league would find it hard to lock us out whilst we have the P shares (provided we finished top...), but who knows. Definitely feels like a steady decline at the moment that will only be arrested by new investment or being ring-fenced in.

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

Post by SirBurger on Mon 19 Feb 2018, 9:28 am

Margin_Walker wrote:Wouldn't surprise me to see some movement in coaching staff and a fresh perspective wouldn't go amiss. Agree on Venter. It's not worked and often adds a bit of confusion to who is calling the shots when he's in town.

Saw the article in TRP. I think the league would find it hard to lock us out whilst we have the P shares (provided we finished top...), but who knows. Definitely feels like a steady decline at the moment that will only be arrested by new investment or being ring-fenced in.

I suppose they would also find it difficult to exclude us as we have one of the best/largest academy areas so excluding us would probably require revisiting boundaries which I am sure would not go down well with us. Just have to make sure we finish first or top 2 if it is going to be a closed 14 team league.

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

Post by SirBurger Today at 4:35 pm

Good performance today. I think overall, I am just happy for the coaches and the squad who have had to keep going and have taken a lot of criticism. It sounds like morale and effort has remained quite high and it is good that they have something to show for that. Having said that, it is really easy to see why we are bottom as we could have scored so many more than we did. Composure 5 metres out is abysmal. Botha was outstanding and van Zyl was decent too. It would be real coup if we could convince them to stick around for a season in the Championship.

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

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