22 February 2017
London Irish flanker Blair Cowan is backing new recruit Tevita Koloamatangi to be a hit with the Exiles’ faithful ahead of this Saturday’s Greene King IPA Championship clash against London Scottish at the Madejski Stadium (kick-off 3pm).
Tongan international Koloamatangi, 28, has already revealed his hunger to pull on the famous green jersey as the club pushes for promotion back to the Premiership.
Cowan, who also plays in the back-row, is enthused by the Pacific Islanders’ arrival ahead of the season run-in.
“I love it when a new player arrives as they bring lots of energy,” said Scotland capped Cowan.
“I can already see in training that he has great skill and explosive ball-carrying ability, which will give us a massive boost as we enter the final stages of the season.
“He really excites me and I’m sure he will turn a lot of heads and provide real competition in the back-row department. Players like him can change a game and have a real impact on the club – he’s fitted into the set-up seamlessly and it’s been made easier by the fact that he already knows a few of the boys,” he added.
Cowan and his teammates are gearing up for this weekend’s showdown with Scottish, a game which the big Scot believes will be a physical test for his side.
“London Scottish will come to the Madejski keen to make amends for their defeat against us earlier in the season,” said Cowan, who was part of the team that defeated the Richmond-based club back in October.
“It’s important that we build on the performance against Nottingham and we will need to be right on top of our game if we are to get the result that we want against Scottish.
“The Championship is extremely competitive and there isn’t much between Scottish and a place in the top four. It’s up to us to make sure that we are mentally prepared for this game as we approach the crucial stages of the season,” he added.
Cowan has 17 caps to his name and says that he has not given up on a Scotland recall, saying: “I’m always looking to improve my game and a call-up to the Scotland squad has to be my target, although my focus at the moment is solely on getting London Irish back to the Premiership.
“I feel that my game has developed massively over the last year and I’m in the best shape of my career – my confidence is certainly very high. Hopefully we make an immediate return to the Premiership and I can start knocking on the door of the Scotland squad.”
With Cowan harbouring ambitions of a return to the international scene, the New Zealand-born back-row puts his own recent resurgence down to Forwards Coach George Skivington.
Skivington joined Irish’s management team shortly after calling time on his playing career at the end of last term.
Cowan said: “He’s [George Skivington] a strong character who oozes knowledge, especially when it comes to the set-piece. He’s always open to learning from a coach’s point of view and the boys respect him massively because some of them played with him in seasons gone by.”
With four Premiership titles and two Heineken Cup winners’ medals to his name, it is little wonder that the ex-lock is a vital component of Irish’s armoury in the daily management meetings.
“George has undoubtedly contributed to the changing landscape around the club and the whole structure is geared around being united and moving forward,” said Cowan.
Tickets are available for the Exiles’ next home game against London Scottish this Saturday by calling 0118 968 1016 or click here to purchase online. Read the full interview with Blair Cowan in this Saturday’s match day programme.