26 November 2015

After signing for London Irish in the summer from Super Rugby franchise, the Chiefs, it has been a busy start of the season for Matt Symons.

The 26 year old lock has started all of London Irish’s four Aviva Premiership fixtures and both European Rugby Challenge Cup matches.

“They were a tough block of fixtures,” said Symons reflecting on the start of the Aviva Premiership season, which saw the Exiles face Leicester, Exeter, Saracens and Bath.

“It was a steep learning curve for me and the team but there are a huge amount of positives to pull out of it.

“The start of the season was always going to be a work in progress. Everyone obviously wants the dream start but the reality of it is when you have different coaches coming in, new players - getting everything to gel does take time.”

Following these games Symons was handed the captaincy when London Irish welcomed Agen to the Madejski Stadium for their first Challenge Cup match of the season.

“It was a real privilege and I was really honoured to be made captain,” said Symons.

“It doesn’t really change my role to be honest, there are a lot of leaders throughout the squad and I just do my role and do my bit and everyone else does their bit and its not too much extra responsibility.”

Under Symons leadership the Exiles picked up their first win of the season with an eight-try victory over Agen, claiming an all important bonus point. Symons again led the side out last week, where a last gasp try from Grenoble stole them the victory as Irish took away the losing bonus point.

“We were really pleased with the Agen performance. It was great to get the win and we put in a really strong performance as well.

“Then on to Grenoble, we had a really strong 60 minutes in the middle but the first and last ten minutes were pretty frustrating.

“The matches were about putting in a good performance and then going from there. Having said that, later on in the competition that bonus point and the one against Agen will be significant.”

“After the Grenoble game, I told the boys I was really proud of the fight back after the start we had,” said Symons, with Irish facing an early 14-point deficit after a flying start from Grenoble at Stade des Alpes.

“I was really proud of the effort and the heart we showed coming back from that. To a certain extent that is sport, that is what happens sometimes. Sometimes we will get it go our way sometimes we get some that happen like Saturday. It is a big learning for me as captain and for the squad in closing games out and something that we will learn a lot from.”

This weekend offers a fresh challenge for Symons, with London Irish hosting Wasps in match two of the London Double Header at Twickenham Stadium.

“I can’t wait for Saturday, I am really excited. I don’t really know what to expect from it.

“It will be my first game playing there, I’ve watched a lot of games there on TV and always wanted to play there. Every player in the country wants to have a run out at Twickenham.

“I am just really excited and expecting a pretty loud crowd and a really good atmosphere, I can’t wait.”

This weekend will also be Symons’ first match versus Wasps, who have had a strong start to the Premiership season as well as recording wins over Leinster and Toulon over the last two European weekends.

“I have watched a lot of their games, all of their last five or so. I am expecting a really tough contest; they have a lot of threat in attack with big ball carriers and some x-factor players.

“Then on the flip side they have a really strong defensive structure and are quick over the ball so it is going to be a really big challenge but we are up for it and really excited.”

Tickets for the London Double Header are still available from £15 for juniors and £34 for adults. Tickets are available by calling: 0118 968 1016

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