McLean: Ringfence talk adds pressure
EXPERIENCED London Irish wing Luke McLean insists talk of ring-fencing will not distract his side from the task of winning promotion.
With ambitious Ealing on their tails and November’s loss to Jersey still fresh in Irish minds, the Exiles are under huge pressure to return to the Premiership next season and ensure their future business plans are not compromised.
Ahead of today’s clash with Richmond, McLean told The Rugby Paper: “Long-term for the club, these games matter and we don’t want any mistakes.
“There is a lot more importance on these games because it does matter if you go back up or stay down.
“But from a playing perspective a match is a match and you want to win, whether it’s a league game or Championship Cup.
“We’ll prepare for any game the same way regardless of what’s riding on it and from a coaching perspective that’s what those guys do. It does seem a bit strange but when the whistle blows, you’ll do everything to win anyway.”
Fijian internationals Albert Tuisue and Alivereti Veitokani are set to debut for Irish, with the latter starting at No.15 and Tuisue on the bench.
McLean, who starts on the wing, said: “They’ve been good additions to the team and I’m really looking forward to seeing them play.”
Irish recovered from their Jersey loss to defeat Hartpury a fortnight ago, with McLean adding: “That was one of our better performances and we really came out of the blocks strong.
“It’s been a weird period with six weeks of cup matches, then gaps in the schedule over Christmas and New Year, but we’ve had a pretty intense period of training so the boys are raring to go and put what we’ve done on the paddock.”
While Irish will be heavy favourites against part-time opposition, McLean warns: “All the boys who were here have spoken about playing Richmond two years ago, when they manned-up against Irish and physically dominated us.
“We’re well aware of the threat but we’re looking forward to showing what we can do.”
Richmond welcome back experienced duo Rory Damant and Chris Davies as they seek an upset.
Boss Steve Hill said: “They’re a couple of important senior players and we’re looking forward to this period of league fixtures now.
“Irish have some fantastic players but playing top clubs doesn’t scare us and we want to get something out of this game.”
No fear: Steve Hill
No mistakes: Luke McLean