After enduring a tough weekend of Aviva Premiership Rugby, London Irish back row Blair Cowan admits success in Europe can help his side get their league campaign back on track.
The Exiles fell to their fifth consecutive league defeat on Sunday as Gloucester Rugby’s second-half surge proved the difference at the Madejski Stadium to leave Brian Smith’s side 11th in the table.
Their recent slump is at odds with an impressive start to the season, as Irish ran high-flyers Northampton Saints and Saracens close and recorded an historic triumph over Leicester Tigers at Welford Road.
Although injuries have played their part, Cowan admits the Exiles have been frustrated by their performances and need to regain the belief that flowed around their new Hazelwood training ground just a few months ago.
And with Irish riding high in Europe after two impressive victories over Rovigo and Grenoble, the 28-year-old is adamant they can rediscover their best form in back-to-back games against Cardiff Blues.
“Frustration is the key word, especially as our own errors and mistakes cost us,” he said. “We were bitterly disappointed and sat around the changing room for a long time afterwards, knowing it was our fault.
“Everyone has been very honest about that though and we are positive about our chances of turning this run around.
“We have got the goods because we produced big wins away at Leicester and Grenoble and narrow losses to Saracens and Saints. We know we can do it when we are on song but need to find that confidence switch.
“We’ve had to deal with a few more international absences than we’ve been used to before and had a few important injuries to guys like George Skivington, Shane Geraghty and Tom Homer.
“But we can’t play the blame game and have to get that buzz back soon and we can really kick that off in Europe this weekend.
“These games are well timed to be honest – we are top of our pool so it will be nice to go out there with a bit of confidence and try to back up those first two victories. It’s a real chance to rebuild our season.”
The Exiles will come up against a Blues side who have similarly struggled at home this season but Cowan is wary of facing a team boosted by the recent signing of Argentine international Joaquin Tuculet.
Yet after his own recent impact in the international arena, Cowan is relishing the chance to use his form with Scotland to inspire his club on to a successful season.
“Cardiff Blues have some quality players and we are both on the same wavelength as far as this competition goes,” he added.
“They are clearly our main rivals for topping the group so there will be a real buzz about both games and I’m sure we’ll do well if we stick to the script.
“We’re taking this cup one game at a time but it’s definitely one of our goals and we’re taking it seriously and it would be fantastic to get a piece of silverware.”
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