Ross McMillan has illustrated how the competitive nature at the Hazelwood Centre is enabling players to “step into” the London Irish jersey, rather than “step up”.

London Irish’s Assistant Forwards Coach is preparing the side for a colossal tussle with local rivals Harlequins in the Premiership Rugby Cup this week, with the coaches’ messaging ahead of the cup clash an enduring one, no matter who takes to the field. 

McMillan additionally details of the excitement for a fixture etched into the Exile Nation diary for months, taking to the field at the Brentford Community Stadium under the Friday Night Lights.

“First and foremost, we go out to win,” McMillan outlined.

“I’ve played in this competition as a player and I’m now privileged enough to coach in it, and it doesn’t matter who is selected, our squad is there to compete in every single game and competition that we are in. 

“We are playing a Friday night fixture in front of our fans, which doesn’t come along often but when they do, it is something to take stock of. 

“The fixture against Saracens or any fixture under the lights at Brentford are ones to get excited for. 

“Being a local derby against a team that we know well, there is lots to look forward to on Friday night.”

The Exiles’ solid going in the cup competition will give cause for optimism, but the former Irish hooker reiterated the messaging of taking this season on a game-by-game basis.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say we’re in pursuit of silverware, but that’s not to say that won’t happen. 

“I think if we get carried away and look too far ahead, we forget about the now and at the moment every game is important and is a game to win- if that ends up where it ends up, then so be it. 

“At the same time, those big bits will only be looked after when the little bits are in place, and that at the moment is training for those performances and maintaining that winning mentality.”

McMillan and the coaching team appraised last weekend’s loss away to Leicester Tigers, gauging the lessons learnt to take forward into exacting occasions such as this Friday against Harlequins.  

“Obviously when you don’t have the full complement on the pitch it’s a little bit tougher and everyone has to work that little bit harder, but I thought we showed good resolve and still stayed true to ourselves. 

“That's the most exciting and pleasing thing in terms of coaching, there could be a tendency to go into your shell and potentially take a step back, but I don’t think we did. 

“An interception try and a couple of missed opportunities ourselves, and it’s a different scoreline- there were a lot of pleasing aspects.”

The Round 4 tie will accentuate the importance not only in the strength in depth of the current squad, but also preparation on the training field for a matchup like Friday’s.

“We have a squad made up of guys that are competing week in, week out, and that’s not necessarily every week against opposition players, but week in, week out against each other. 

“We have guys that are the most competitive people in the land, in my opinion, and I have the privilege of coaching them on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the middle of winter and the peak of summer, and the attitude does not change. 

“I don’t necessarily see it as guys stepping up, but stepping in. 

“The responsibility that those guys have is to carry on, and the biggest compliment we can pay them as people and players is that nothing changes. 

“We’ll be giving the constant and steady messages as a group, and nothing will change in our approach to this game.”

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