Fainga’a fired up for Ir­ish rel­e­ga­tion fight

The Rugby Paper - - News - ■ By NEALE HAR­VEY

FIT-again Lon­don Ir­ish hooker Saia Fainga’a is ready to take the Pre­mier­ship by storm as the Ex­iles look to fight their way out of rel­e­ga­tion trou­ble.

Thirty-six cap for­mer Wal­la­bies star Fainga’a has been dogged by in­jury since ar­riv­ing from the Brumbies in Au­gust, but is de­ter­mined to bring his vast ex­pe­ri­ence to bear.

Fainga’a, a Su­per Rugby win­ner with Queens­land Reds in 2011, told The

Rugby Pa­per: “I’m com­ing back into the squad with the at­ti­tude of win­ning.

“No one wants to be bot­tom. When I joined the Reds in 2009 we were last, but two years later we were cham­pi­ons and that’s the ex­pe­ri­ence I bring.

“I know about re­build­ing teams and how to be a suc­cess. That was one of the big rea­sons Ir­ish got me here and while I’ve been con­tribut­ing off the field, now I can help on the field and the sub­stance in this team is there to do re­ally well.

“We’ve come close against teams like Le­ices­ter, Bath and Wasps so we’ve got the foun­da­tions to be suc­cess­ful; we just need to bring it to fruition with a cou­ple of big wins now and I’m sure we can fin­ish in the mid­dle of the table.”

On his rea­sons for head­ing north, Fainga’a ex­plained: “I needed to break the cy­cle. I’ve been a pro­fes­sional since I was 17 and didn’t know any­thing other than Su­per Rugby, so with hav­ing a young fam­ily now it made sense to step away.

“Be­tween Su­per Rugby and the Wal­la­bies, trav­el­ling to South Africa, Ar­gentina, Ja­pan and Europe meant be­ing away from home up to three months each year, so it’s time to re­pay my wife and kids by set­tling in one place for a bit.

“Hope­fully, I can play good rugby and, like we did at the Reds, take ad­van­tage of this chance by help­ing Ir­ish to do some­thing spe­cial.”

Mean­while, Aus­tralia’s re­cent beat­ings at the hands of Eng­land and Scot­land have failed to dampen Fainga’a’s be­lief that they can still be a World Cup threat.

He said: “They’re bring­ing a lot of good young guys through.

“Is Michael Cheika the right man as head coach? I be­lieve he’s do­ing a great job and we’re start­ing to build a bit of depth again.

“Stephen Larkham’s on the pay­roll and you’ve seen his de­vel­op­ment as a coach with the Brumbies.

“He’s a for­mi­da­ble per­son to be reck­oned with and that will hold Aus­tralia in good stead for the World Cup.

“Come 2019, I’m sure we’ll be ready to chal­lenge again.”

De­fi­ant: Saia Fainga’a

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