McLean: Ringfence talk adds pres­sure

The Rugby Paper - - Championship - By NEALE HAR­VEY

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

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