16 January 2015
On Saturday 17th January London Irish welcome Grenoble to the Madejski Stadium in the European Challenge Cup.
Irish, currently top of the pool but level on points with Cardiff Blues, come into the game with a chance to getting one step closer to securing a home quarter final.
After a Man of the Match performance last weekend versus Exeter Chiefs, Topsy Ojo is keen to carry the Exiles’ recent form into their European campaign.
“We have put ourselves in control of the group and we know exactly what we need to do,” London Irish’s all time top try scorer, Ojo, said ahead of this weekend’s game. “It is a big game but we are looking forward to it; after Sunday’s win the guys are itching to get back out there and maintain form and momentum.
“Over the next fortnight we have a chance of putting ourselves in a quarter-final and that is massive.”
This weekend’s clash is London Irish’s most important fixture to date this season, and possibly in recent history. Despite this, Ojo insists the team are treating it like any other game.
“We know what is at stake but that is no reason to put any added pressure on it. We know it is important but every game is important.
“Obviously we realise that over the next fortnight we can put ourselves in with a shot of getting a trophy. That is huge for us but we need to treat things exactly the same and come Saturday we need to be ready to perform and get the job done.
“You go one at a time; the moment you start to think about what is ahead you lose sight of what is in front of you.
“We are level on points with Cardiff so if we slip up they are there to make the most of it.
“We don’t want to put ourselves in that position so it is about focusing on Grenoble, getting the right result and then looking forward to Rovigo.”
Last time the two sides met back in October London Irish produced one if their best performances of the season, picking up a crucial win and inflicting Grenoble’s first loss at home of the season.
“We took huge confidence from the win there in that they hadn’t been beaten at home before us and they were going really well. That was a long time ago and a lot has happened since then,” Ojo continued.
“We treat this as a brand new fixture, obviously we will look at them and what they will bring to the party but ultimately our focus is on us.
“We need to keep our performance levels as they were on Sunday, there are still things we need to fix from then but the general attitude and intensity that we played at needs to stay the same and be our base level.
“We are expecting a lot of physicality. There is a myth about French teams travelling but they are a professional outfit and we were the first team to beat them at home and that will be on their mind.
“They are still in with a shout of qualifying so they have stuff to play for. If we don’t turn up and we aren’t at the races even slightly we give them a sniff.
“We need to make our home stadium a fortress and we need to make it uncomfortable for them.”
This fortress mentality at the Madejski is starting to take shape. After picking up just one win at home in the first half of the season London Irish have picked up three home wins on the bounce in recent weeks, including the all important match with Cardiff Blues.
“We have been playing at home recently and it is important to do so both for us and for our supporters because they want to see us playing good rugby and see us winning games.
“Hopefully that is something we can build on now, we didn’t in the first half of the season but we have won a few on the bounce now and hopefully we can build on that this weekend.”