A lot can change in a couple of weeks. London Irish went into their European games hoping to kickstart their form as they try to keep the spectre of relegation away. Fast forward to this week and Premiership rugby has been assured for next season, giving the squad space to breathe. @RugbyLI caught up with Ollie Hoskins to see what the mood is at Hazelwood.
“Overall it’s been quite disappointing. We go into every competition, every game looking to secure maximum points and the last two weeks especially don’t reflect the effort we’ve put in” Hoskins says, clear from the off that the team aren’t happy with the results away at Bayonne and most recently on Saturday night against Scarlets. He can see the positives too though as the club put the Challenge Cup behind them for the season “It allows us to focus solely on the Premiership. If you look at the table we’re only 5 points out from being a top 6 side and we haven’t played our best rugby yet.”
It’s a theme Ollie clearly believes strongly in. The performances on the field don’t reflect the effort or the quality of the team and there is lots more to come. “The first five or six rounds were really promising. The wins against Leicester and Wasps. We were a millimetre away from beating Sarries away, the Bristol game we went down to 14 mean and fought for a draw in a hostile environment. And then there have been some blips… We’ve lost some momentum but we’ll look to get back on the horse on Friday and rip into Northampton”.
“They’re a really good attacking side. They shift the ball around a lot and they’ve all got good skills.” The team are ready for tough opposition at Franklins Gardens. “we’re under no illusions it’s going to be a tough place to go but we’ll attack the game. We’re ready for what they’ll throw at us! They’ve got some great players but we’re a good defensive team so we can nullify that and throw some punches back at them.
That good defence comes about because of quality depth and that’s most evident in the three-way battle for Hoskins’ number 3 shirt. “There’s competition in every position. In mine you’ve got Sekope who is a world class player. He’s got over 100 caps for Australia, he’s been around forever! It’s good for me to learn off him and to compete against him for that shirt. Lovejoy has played some really good rugby to start the year too. The shirt is never guaranteed. You have one bad performance…”
“I’d be lying if I said it didn’t take some weight off the shoulders, but it won’t affect the way we play on the pitch.” Hoskins tells me as the conversation moves to league confirms Saracens relegation at the end of the season. “We’ve always been a performance rather than a results based team. We look at ourselves and how we played before the result. We wanted to establish ourselves against the best teams in the country this season. We’ve got 14 more games to prove to everyone that regardless of what happened at Sarries we deserve to be in this competition!”
It’s a strong statement from Ollie and one we all look forward to seeing borne out of the coming weeks as the team continue to give their all!
Our thanks as always to the team for their support, to Ollie for giving up his time and to Matt Merritt for carrying out these interviews!