Darren Dawidiuk is set to play his first game since having treatment for testicular cancer. The London Irish hooker has joined Championship side Hartpury RFC on loan in a bid to get himself match fit.

Dawidiuk, 30, returned to training with Irish on New Year’s Day and has made excellent progress as he pushes for a place in Nick Kennedy’s match day squad.

Now the courageous hooker, who has decided to stick to a vegan diet, is preparing himself for this weekend’s trip with Hartpury to Doncaster Knights.

“It’s been a long journey back and it’s been extremely tough at times, but I’m really excited to be back playing again,” said the Cornishman.

“I had a chat with Nick Kennedy and he was keen to get me some game time as I might be needed for Irish before the end of the season.

“I know a few of the lads at Hartpury and I know head coach Mark Cornwell from my time at Gloucester, so I’m looking forward to getting stuck in.”

Dawidiuk is no stranger to playing in the Championship, having spent three seasons at Cornish Pirates prior to his move to Kingsholm in 2009 where he made 144 appearances for the Cherry and Whites.

“The Championship is an extremely physical competition and I’m relishing the challenge,” said Dawidiuk.

“It’s hard to put into words how good I feel right now, and I’ve not felt this well in such a long time.”

Exiles’ director of rugby Nick Kennedy said: “I speak on behalf of everyone at the club in saying how delighted we are to see Darren back playing again and I’m sure he’ll do well for Hartpury during his loan period.

“He has shown unbelievable character in fighting the disease head on and since making his return to training on New Year’s Day, he has gone from strength to strength.

“The game time with Hartpury will hopefully improve his match sharpness as he sets his sights on a return to action with Irish.”

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