In the form of London Irish ready for Leicester
London Irish rugby director Declan Kidney believes the team’s recent bout against leaders Bristol has brought newfound faith to his players.
The Exiles, who sit in seventh place on the Premiership table, won six days at Wasps last Saturday after returning down from 31-6 to keep the Bears 34-34 at Brentford.
The Irish have lost five games this season, two of them due to postponements caused by Covid-19, and traveled to Leicester on Friday night full of confidence and the possibility of potentially finishing in the top four.
“Belief has grown, after that game (Bristol) the players were half disappointed that they didn’t win because they know what we are building,” said Kidney.
“At the end of the day we end up in the league, we end up in the league, but when we can be as good as we are, that’s an achievement.
“It’s pretty ambitious because we have a group of players who have come together from many corners of the world.
“In a year of pandemic where two games were stolen from us, the other seven, two, three lost, three won, it’s about the middle of the table and we’re where we deserve it.”
Next week it will be three years since Kidney came to the club with head coach Les Kiss and began the task of reviving the fate of the exiles who have strived to attract and keep their local players while they are residing in Reading had the last 20 years.
Back in the capital and playing at the new Brentford Community Stadium, the former Ireland and Munster supremo Kidney believes the club has the potential and now the venue to become a powerhouse in the English game.
“It’s always dangerous to go to a club with a three- or five-year plan because you never know if you’re there to find out,” Kidney said.
“This is actually a huge club, the potential is huge.
“The club went to America for a match a few years ago and got 20,000.
“One of the largest tournaments (in Europe) with over 2,000 children is taking place on the amateur side of the club.
“We are currently in an upward cycle and are growing into it. I know I’m biased because we play our home games but the move to Brentford has been huge, it’s a fantastic arena for rugby.
“If we are still playing well and the fans are back, I can guarantee that there will be an atmosphere. It’s going to be a great day for everyone.
“There’s a lot more to come in terms of growth.”