London Irish Director of Rugby Declan Kidney has said that his team are aware of the further refinement required this Saturday when Worcester Warriors await at the Gtech Community Stadium.
The long-awaited Gallagher Premiership opener is within touching distance for the Exiles, fresh from a solid few showings in their pre-season schedule in St. Peter, Cork and Chippenham.
The boss nevertheless is of the opinion that there was still work to do for his side despite the clean sweep of friendly matches, acknowledging there has been progress showed by his men game-by-game.
Kidney has also revealed that the pre-season games have allowed for new signings, youth players and all squad members to find themselves back into the flow of the London Irish way on the field.
“It does take a while for lads to settle in, without a shadow of a doubt, because the way we play requires the guys to get up to speed with the nuances of our game,” stated Kidney.
“Having those three games was handy, we were able to give a lot of guys time and a few have 80 minutes under their belt spread across the two weeks.
“You can see the improvement from our first match, you’re not sure if you’re off the mark or if guys are trying too hard, or the fact that the opposition have turned up full tilt.
“But there was an improvement going into the second game, and we know now that we will only have to improve further for Saturday’s game.”
The last few months have afforded the management time to re-evaluate and bolster the ranks ahead of a season including Heineken Champions Cup rugby for the first time in over a decade.
“We did attack well last year and sides will know more about what we are as a team this time around, so in that way it will be more difficult.
“Defensively last year, I was really happy with a lot of it; we did concede some tries but they were in some particular areas where we had our inaccuracies, in attack they could be behind us and it’s impossible to defend those ones, and in the set-piece we have looked to adjust that as well.
“We have worked well on those areas over the summer period, and we’re looking forward to seeing how they go now because it will be more difficult to score, but we want to make it difficult for other teams to do the same.”
The London Irish family are looking forward to welcoming Warriors and their travelling support this weekend, after what has been a trying few weeks for the Sixways Club.
Irish’s Director of Rugby shared his support for the efforts of Worcester’s squad and staff, but insists Irish’s efforts are solely focused on the 80 minutes in Brentford this Saturday.
“We have nothing but respect for Worcester and Steve Diamond, they strive through a lot of adversity, and I would imagine the human side of it would be unbelievably stressful.
“There are people in charge of the financial side and we are here somewhere in the middle in the rugby side, we are looking forward to it but we wouldn’t be side winked by it all.
“You can be caught up with these distractions, Steve had them well riled up the last time they came down to play us and we played them three times last year and the spoils lie with Worcester at the moment, so we have to get ourselves ready for that.
“As for the rugby side of the Club, that’s easy for us because they are the next match up so that is what our full focus is on.”
With Irish’s preparation for the opener seeing them accrue a trio of impressive wins, Warriors’ circumstances mean they approach Saturday with little on-field minutes.
The visitors’ last away trip came in the cup final win over Irish, with Kidney dismissing suggestions of his team holding much of an advantage over the Midlands side.
He commented: “They have too many good players with too much to play for.
“When it comes down to the rugby match, you can use those things in your favour, and there’s no better man to get them using them than Steve.
“Ted Hill has done a remarkable job as captain, and there is quality elsewhere with England internationals British and Irish Lions players in their ranks.
“We know we have a full contest because all of those excuses will go out of the door.
“It’s the first league game up in the season and yet there is so much involved in it, which is why it has the makings of such a great game.
“I think it will be a good game between the two of us, there are similarities in the way both sides go about their business and the contest will be great.”