London Irish has ‘massive potential’ according to new Technical Director Brendan Venter, who has returned to the club.
Venter, 46, a member of the Springboks’ 1995 World Cup-winning squad, officially took up his role on June 24th and heads up a management team that includes Nick Kennedy, Clark Laidlaw, George Skivington, Paul Hodgson and Declan Danaher.
Casting his eye over a high octane training session on Friday afternoon, Venter later took time out to talk about an array of topics including his reasons for returning to the club, what his role will entail and the immediate challenges that lie ahead in the Greene King IPA Championship.
“London Irish is a club very close to my heart,” said Venter, whose association with the club began in 1998 when he first signed as a centre.
“Bob Casey asked me to come over and see what I thought of the club, and it is clear to see that the foundations have been laid and there is massive potential.
“I have nothing but good memories of my time here – my wife and children hold fantastic memories of London Irish and I would say that the supporters are the best in the world.
“It’s about the people at the club when I think of London Irish, people like Kieran McCarthy, Bob Casey, Nick Kennedy Dec Danaher, Paul Hodgson, Frank McCartney and Glenn Kielty. They are still involved with the club from when I was last here and that is why London Irish has a lot of meaning to me,” he added.
Venter will support the senior coaching set-up and has given new Director of Rugby Kennedy a ringing endorsement as the Exiles prepare to tackle the Championship with the ultimate aim of sealing promotion back to the Aviva Premiership.
He said: “Nick in my opinion is the right person to take this club forward, so my role will be to support him and give direction in the way we are going to play, the way we analyse both the opposition and our own game and how we want to be seen as a club.”
Turning his immediate attention to the club’s assault on the Championship, Venter insists the competition will be tough but admits Irish are well placed to mount a serious battle for promotion.
“You can’t change the past and now we have to move forward,” said the 17-times capped South African.
“All the crying in the world isn’t going to change things and the reality is that the club will have to play well in order to get out of the Championship. Consistency will be key for us as the Championship will be a difficult competition – longer term we want to be a club that is not only surviving in the Premiership season after season as that would be a waste of time.
“We need to be humble and go back to the basics of the game – maybe we have been guilty of trying to run before we can crawl. Executing and delivering our plan is paramount and sometimes you can have a great plan with great ideas, but are unable to put it in place. We will be looking to work on our skillset and hopefully it will grow into something special,” added Venter.
First impressions of the senior squad have been positive according to the former Saracens supremo, saying: “For a club that has been relegated, we have recruited well and I was very impressed with the way we trained on my first day at the club.
“There was a great energy about training and I’m very encouraged with what I’ve seen. I was saying to Bob that I thought we had a great day with the players.
“Relegation was a hiccup and it’s not an ideal situation to be in, but London Irish have been through tough times before and we will get through this.”
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