With a new coach bringing fresh ideas into a reshuffled side, London Irish are one of Aviva Premiership Rugby’s most intriguing sides heading into next season.
But prop Tom Court admits it will take time for the Exiles to mould the type of identity that took them all the way to the Premiership Final in 2009 as they rebuild from the ground up.
Head coach Tom Coventry will jet in imminently after wrapping up the Super Rugby season with the Chiefs – but he won’t be the only new face in the building.
Andy Goode, former Waratahs scrum-half Brendan McKibbin and seasoned internationals Ben Franks and Sean Maitland are just some of the summer arrivals that Coventry will thrash out his new vision with.
And even if the finer details remain up in the air, Court insists positive rugby will be very much at the heart of their playing style.
“We want to make improvements on last season and lay good foundations for the club to go forward,” he said.
“It is probably a ‘suck it and see’ kind of time with a whole new coaching set-up coming in and new faces.
“We had guys here last season who underperformed and now it is about trying to get everyone to mesh together as a team and build the team culture and environment to really move on in the next few years to get London Irish back up and running.
“Nobody has laid down any markers or goals in terms of the league table. We are looking to play nice, positive rugby. We want to improve the basics, work on fitness and the skills and try to play an effective style of rugby that the boys can be proud of and enjoy playing.”
Despite a tenth-placed finish last season there were a number of bright spots that the Exiles can take forward, in particular the performances of Alex Lewington who ended his breakthrough year with 12 Aviva Premiership Rugby tries.
And Court says Irish entered the pre-season with their tails up, knowing that there is better to come.
“It is a very exciting time at London Irish. There is a real positive vibe around,” he added.
“There was a quite a positive vibe towards the end of last season in anticipation of what we are trying to do leading into this season.
“There is a whole new coaching staff and the there has been a bit of restructuring of the management staff and then you have the new boys coming in.
“There is a real positivity around here. We just need to get back to basic and lay the foundations first and then move on.”