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Clark Laidlaw: New York trip could be vital for London Irish

Next week’s trip to New York to take on Saracens will be the perfect chance for London Irish to press the reset button – according to assistant coach Clark Laidlaw.

For the first time ever two Aviva Premiership Rugby clubs will meet in a regular season game at Red Bull Stadium
on March 12.

The Exiles had a tough start to the season but in recent months have started to find their feet, claiming impressive wins over Northampton Saints, Worcester Warriors and Newcastle Falcons since Christmas.

And Laidlaw admits the chance to grow the game in a new country is the ideal moment for his side to draw a line under what has come and focus on the season run in.

“It’s a great chance, just past the halfway point, to freshen things up for the squad mentally,” he said.

“It’s a big occasion that we can go out and enjoy and we are all really looking forward to, as I’m sure Saracens are.

“We will have to focus on the game of course, but if we can take it to a new audience at the same time then so be it.

“There is a great appetite for sport in America and I hope we can show them what a great game rugby is.”

Laidlaw, who joined the Exiles this year after a coaching spell in New Zealand with the Hurricanes, has played rugby before in the United States while representing the Scotland Sevens set-up.

And the backs coach – who is the son of Scotland and British & Irish Lion scrum-half Roy – cannot wait to soak up the atmosphere Stateside.

“We are all very excited about heading out there, it’s a great experience for the players and for the club and for the league,” he added.

“I have been over to America for Sevens before but it will great to see what sort of appetite there is for the XVs version of the game.”

But while the occasion will be one to savour, the Exiles’ focus remains firmly on improving their lowly league position.

“We have had some frank discussions about where we are in the table but discussing the table and games does not make you play better,” said Laidlaw.  

“We are just over halfway through the season and we know how hard we have to keep working, that is what makes the difference.” 

Following the match against Saracens, London Irish take on Gloucester Rugby at the Madejski on Sunday 20 March with tickets available by calling 0118 968 1016 or click here to purchase online.  The fixture against Saracens on the 12 March will be shown on big screens at the Grosvenor Casino Reading South.

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