Wokingham Today

‘We’re not giving up on Premiershi­p dream’


- By TOM CROCKER tcrocker@wokinghamp­aper.co.uk

FRANCO VAN DER MERWE insists London Irish are refusing to give up on surviving in the Premiershi­p.

The Exiles sit 10 points adrift at the foot of the table with just four games to play ahead of Saturday’s huge clash with rivals Harlequins at The Stoop.

This game takes on extra significan­ce given

Irish still have to tackle the league’s leading two sides, Exeter Chiefs and Saracens, before the season finishes.

And while van der Merwe admits the outlook appears bleak, Irish will refuse to go down without a fight.

“We’re still in it,” the Exiles captain told The

Wokingham Paper. “We’re not in a position where there is no way we can make it.

“For us it’s like a play-off again. We’re still in this competitio­n.

“It’s a little bit out of our hands but as long as we get results and as long as we get points and maybe some other teams don’t get points, we’re still in it. “We want to take one game at a time.”

Irish’s forgettabl­e Premiershi­p season has yielded just two victories, which spelled the end of Nick Kennedy and Brendan Venter’s reign in charge last month.

They were replaced by Declan Kidney and

Les Kiss, who oversaw a narrow 33-29 defeat to Gloucester in their first game in charge two weeks ago.

And van der Merwe says the break leading up to the trip to Quins has been useful.

“They came in not a lot of time before their first game,” he said.

“We’ve spent a lot more time with them now and tried to see what their mindset is like and tried to change ours a little bit.

“It’s nice working with Les and Declan. It’s been a good few weeks for us.”

He added: “It’s a bit of tweaking here and there.

“There’s not a lot that we can change or that they want to change, especially at this time of the season.

“We’ve been playing well over the last couple of games. Although the results didn’t go our way we came very close.

“I think the one thing they’ve been really working on is just our mentality towards the game in terms of managing it a bit better.

“I think that’s been a huge improvemen­t we’ve shown since they’ve joined up with us.”

While Irish have only won two league games this season, one of those was the reverse fixture against Harlequins.

That came way back in September on the opening day of the campaign with a 39-29 triumph at Twickenham and both sides have struggled since.

Quins sit three places above the Exiles following a run of just one win in six league matches in 2018.

“I think it’s going to be a massive game,” said van der Merwe.

“We got the first one on them in the Twickenham game when we played really well so they will definitely be up for the challenge.

“We know what to expect of Quins and it will be a good old tough derby this weekend.

“They’ve got a lot to play for as well as we do. “There’s a lot of good individual­s in their team and there’s a lot of players with a lot of good character.

“The Twickenham game was ages ago. It was our first game and a lot has changed, even the personnel.

“I’m sure we can take some confidence off it but a lot of things have happened from then until now.

“We just have to play the way we want to play on the weekend and control what we can control and then hopefully the result will go our way.”

 ??  ?? Franco van der Merwe has been enjoying training with Declan Kidney and Les Kiss
Franco van der Merwe has been enjoying training with Declan Kidney and Les Kiss

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom