22 April 2023
London Irish scrum-half Ben White is savouring this Sunday’s derby day fixture against Saracens, saying he and the Exiles will enjoy the challenge posed in north London.
Irish return off the back of three fallow weekends of no rugby, a potential stumbling block for any side but White has used the time at the Hazelwood Centre to turn it into a positive and work on his game.
Since a return back to training after time away, the half-back has been part of maintaining the consistent positive energy in the squad that surrounded the Club before the break to “push towards the end goal”.
White and the team are blocking out any potential distractions outside the confines of the capital in Round 23, testifying that looking at their own game will be paramount, just as it has throughout the 2022/23 season.
“Focusing on our own performances has been what has taken us to this point of the season,” he explained.
“We have to understand what is behind the game and enjoy that challenge, we’ve worked hard to get to this part of the season, so let’s enjoy it!
“We’re in the part of the season where the pressure is on, but you enjoy the pressure of that moment in pushing forward into the postseason.
“It’s honed our focus in training and having this block of no games has allowed us to tweak a few things and work hard in areas we thought we needed to address heading into Saracens.
“It will be good to see if those things we have been working on over these last few weeks will come into fruition and show this weekend.”
Striking a balance between anticipation and self-awareness has been one of the keys to success up to this point for Irish, and the Scotland international doesn’t see that changing in the endeavour to get a derby day win.
Putting in an 80 minutes that he, the squad and supporters “can be proud of” too remains important for White.
“You have to have that excitement, it’s something you work all season for, but it’s having that balance of knowing the big picture and working week by week.
“The group as a whole has been good with that, training has been focused on this game and doing the best we can this weekend.
“We want to put in a performance we can be proud of against Saracens.”
Sunday’s meeting with Saracens will be a 26th game for Club and country for White, and with it being such an attritional campaign, he naturally will have been exposed to the wear and tear of the year.
Whilst physically these last few weeks may be a welcome break for White, an eagerness to get back on the field has been mirrored throughout the squad, according to the 24-year-old.
White stated: “Mentally, I would have wanted to carry on, but physically, I think my body needed that break after getting through so many games – it takes a toll.
“You carry little knocks over and over, but it’s been nice to have a reset and work on a few things in these weeks I haven’t been able to when you’re in the mill of playing every week.
“It’s given me time to get my body right, it was a good period but it’s even better to be back in our environment with the lads to get involved in training for a big game.
“What I’ve noticed is how much energy there is in training, how buzzing everyone is and how hard everyone is working.
“That’s because of the goal that’s on the horizon, that’s great to see and everyone’s pushing in the right direction to make that a reality.”
After picking up a 29-20 victory over Sarries in the Club’s last home game in 2022, testing themselves once again against the current league leaders will only benefit Irish in the home stretch of the campaign.
Work ethic and an assured confidence in the Exiles’ way of rugby fills White with confidence that his team can pick up a first away win in Premiership Rugby over Saracens in nine years.
“Saracens have rightly been at the top of the table throughout the season, they’re probably the best side in the Premiership and one of the best sides in Europe.
“They have some fantastic individuals, so it will be a big, big challenge to go there and get a result.
“But again, we look at our performances and on our day, if we stick to our game plan we will have the focus and intent to compete and challenge.
“It’s a great opportunity, because if we want to make the play-offs this season, we have to play against the best teams and push ourselves.
“Ultimately, there’s no greater challenge in the Premiership than playing Saracens and we’ve had some good results in the past, but that’s history.
“We have to make sure we work hard in training to make sure we have the opportunity to get that result this weekend.”