Franco van der Merwe had a debut to remember last weekend as his London Irish side secured a 39-29 bonus point victory over Harlequins at Twickenham.

The former Springbok international, 34, was in fine form for the Exiles as they kicked off their campaign in style as thoughts now turn to tomorrow’s trip to Exeter Chiefs.

“I really enjoyed my debut and we were superb in every department on the day,” said van der Merwe.

“We can take real confidence into the Exeter game, but we are well aware of the fact that we still need to work on a few things in order to improve our all-round game.”

Paying tribute to the work of Exeter boss Rob Baxter, van der Merwe added: “Exeter had an amazing season last time out and they have built something very special over time.

“They are a fine example of what can be achieved with the right mentality and attitude. We’re up for the challenge against an Exeter side that will be keen to bounce back from their defeat at Gloucester.”

Embracing the culture implemented by Exiles’ boss Nick Kennedy, van der Merwe says he is enjoying a new lease of life in the capital.

“The lads have made me feel very welcome at London Irish and, from the management team to the medical department, everyone has helped me settle in,” said the South African.

“It’s a fantastic environment to train in day in day out and I’m keen to see us go from strength to strength.”

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