Declan Kidney believes the 2021/22 Gallagher Premiership season is sure to throw up more twists and turns than ever before – and insists ‘every game is up for grabs.’
London Irish kick-start the new campaign with a trip to Worcester Warriors on Saturday afternoon, and Kidney is excited about the start of another season in charge of the Exiles.
“We’re really looking forward to getting into the season now,” he said.
“It’s been the most integrated pre-season campaign I’ve ever been involved in and that will hopefully stand us in good stead for the busy season that lies ahead of us.”
He added: “There’s a good camaraderie in the squad.
“The time we’ve spent together on the pitch has been fantastic, but there’s also a huge importance placed on the time we’ve spent together off the pitch too.”
Irish have added nine new names to the squad in the summer and Kidney believes the Exile Nation will like what they see when the boys take to the pitch over the coming weeks and months.
“We’ve got a good group here – a more experienced group,” he said.
“We’ve not had vast changes this summer, so each of us knows what makes one another tick.
“We need to put that experience to good use now and hope that continuity will bear fruit in the season to come.”
Worcester Warriors are first-up for the Exiles in Round 1 this weekend and Kidney admits the match provides a ‘conundrum’ for him and his coaches.
“The first game is always a bit more of a conundrum to other weeks,” he said.
“You have to concentrate on yourselves that little bit more on the opening day, because everyone is coming into the season fresh, with a new squad.
“Worcester have recruited strongly, so we don’t quite know the permutations that will throw up.
“If you spend a whole lot of time trying to second-guess the opposition, you might lose the run of it yourself, so this is a weekend where each team probably concentrates on itself a little bit more.
“You don’t ignore the opposition, but if you don’t have that much to work on, you’re probably better off trying to refine your own play.”
Kidney concluded: “We’ll take each game as it comes, because you can be absolutely certain that each game will pose a completely different challenge.
“That’s the great thing about sport – no two weeks or two games are the same.
“I believe it’s a league where anybody can beat anybody. Every game is up for grabs in its own right.”