London Irish secured their place in the quarter finals of the European Challenge Cup last weekend with a bonus point victory over Rovigo Delta. The game also saw young centre Tom Fowlie get his first start of 2015 following the first half of his season being disrupted by a number of injuries.

“It was brilliant,” said Fowlie on getting his first start of the year. “I have had a tough time with injuries in the past couple of months so it was good to get back out there and get 80 minutes under my belt.”

Fowlie made a considerable impact for his first game back. Solid in defence and a potent attacking weapon, the centre set up Ofisa Treviranus for his third try, busting thought the middle of the Rovigo defence before a deft offload to put the Samoan flanker in under the posts.

“It was just a simple play, their 13 moved off me and thankfully I made it through the gap. I almost made it to the line myself but played in Ofisa for his hat trick as the cover defence got across.

“Earlier in the year when I missed the World Cup I tore ligaments in my ankle,” he said, recounting the injuries that not only ruled him out of the IRB Junior World Championships but also the first half of the season.

“In September time I aggravated that injury again which forced me out for a few weeks and then I was just starting to get back into the swing of things and managed to inflame the joint in my shoulder so I was out for two or three weeks with that. It has been very frustrating so hopefully now I am due a bit of luck a run of games.”

The win over Rovigo tees the Exiles up for their biggest game in recent years with a European quarter final, and Fowlie understands how big the game is for the Club.

“It is definitely one of the biggest games the Club has had recently. We have put all of our eggs in the European Challenge Cup basket from the start of the season and it is going to be a massive occasion, especially a home quarter final.

“It will be a very tough game but if we do get through that we also have a home semi final. We don’t want to think too far ahead but it does look like quite a good run in for us.

“We are just focussing on the Edinburgh game and getting through that for now however.”

Attentions now turn to the return of the LV= Cup and a trip to Scarlets this weekend for Irish, and Fowlie is hoping he can use the next two weeks to build some momentum.

“I just want to get playing again, get 80 minutes under my belt and see where that takes me. It is great to be back and back playing again.”

For Fowlie there is also the prospect of international honours with England U20s coming up to think about, something that last year injury prevented him from taking on.

“We have got the Six Nations coming up in a few weeks and the Junior World Cup after that in Italy and after last year’s disappointment I am itching to get involved.

“With the Six Nations, after not being involved last year, there is added incentive and if we do well then hopefully we can carry it into the World Cup.”

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