Chris Elder was always on a mission to return to Aviva Premiership Rugby as quickly as possible but Europe is where he’s been making his impact for London Welsh so far.
And after composed performances as a utility back, the former Wasps Academy product believes he is nudging himself into contention for an elusive first Premiership appearance.
Injuries railroaded his attempts to break into the set-up at Wasps, but whistle-stop tours of National One and the Championship soon set him back on track.
The 22-year-old was spotted by Plymouth Albion thanks to a productive season at Esher in 2012, and after scoring a try in victory over Welsh last January, head coach Justin Burnell needed no further excuse to snap him up.
Back then Elder could not have predicted he’d wind back up in the top flight – he agreed terms in March – let alone play in Europe.
And though the Exiles’ struggles have continued into European competition, a try against Lyon and two penalties on place-kicking duties against Edinburgh last weekend is a sizable haul for the new kid on the block.
“Personally it’s really good being surrounded in a different environment with a slightly higher calibre of player, and I’ve been playing lots and getting the game time in Europe,” said Elder.
“I’ve not been involved in the Premiership yet but the games I’ve been involved in were of a very high intensity and the aim is to put my hand up, which I’ve hopefully done.
“We’ve been struggling with a couple of injuries and I was one of the available place-kickers, so it’s nice to have a couple under my belt given the opportunity to pop them over. I want to be able to show that I’m confident to do so in any situation.
“I had a couple of injuries at Wasps and I kind of knew I’d be leaving, so I knew I had to fight my way back up and wanted to get back to a Premiership standard as soon as possible.
“I’ve wanted to take the opportunities whenever they’ve popped up, first at Esher and then at Plymouth, and I’ve been lucky to have some great coaches during that period.
“I’ve been learning as much as I can off the older guys with the amount of knowledge they have behind them.
"Speaking to them, they’re really willing to work through technique and skills with you, and that should only help us out in the long run.”
And though the Exiles’ best-laid plans have not come to fruition since promotion from the Championship, Elder insists the kinks are being ironed out.
He added: “It’s hard to start off with stepping up from the Championship for any club, for all the players.
“We’ve not got the results we wanted but when we do put the performances in, which I think we have done in our last two Premiership games, then you can see a lot of progress.
“But perhaps we’re doing it for 80 percent of the game rather than the 80 minutes and that’s when you can get punished – we’re not managing to finish it off.
“It’s starting to come in terms of fewer errors, at the start they’re easy to make when you’re not as familiar with other players.”
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