There is no denying that Tom Homer’s knee injury in the opening Aviva Premiership Rugby game of the season was a huge blow for London Irish.
But if there is one silver lining to emerge from that piece of misfortune, it is Andrew Fenby’s performances at the unfamiliar full-back position in his stead.
Before this season, Fenby had spent most of his professional rugby career marauding up and down the wing but when Homer suffered a grade two knee sprain in the season opener against Harlequins, he was handed the No.15 jersey.
And after starting as full-back in each of the Exiles’ five league games since, the 29-year-old insists he has relished the test of a new position as he improves week on week.
“I’m really enjoying it at full-back,” said Fenby. “It’s nice to have a new challenge – I always enjoyed playing there when I was younger.
“It’s good that the coaches have belief in my ability to play there and I’ve been playing well.
“I’ve also been working on my left foot so I can use that as a kicking option – it’s nice to be progressing my game really.
“We spoke about moving me to full-back over the summer after I’d mentioned that I was comfortable in that position.
“The backs coach Richard Whiffin and Brian Smith were aware of me wanting to play there and Smithy thought I could do a job.
“They tried me at full-back in a pre-season game which actually didn’t go too well but they had faith in me.
“Unfortunately for Tommy, he got injured in that first game and Smithy gave me the chance which has gone well and has coincided with some great performances from the team.”
London Irish produced two wins and some impressive defensive displays in the first block of Aviva Premiership Rugby games but also suffered a number of agonising losses that left them with a league-high three losing bonus points.
After a month-long break for European and LV= Cup action, the Exiles return their focus to league matters with a trip to Sale Sharks this weekend.
And despite currently sitting in ninth position, Fenby is adamant that if they can correct one or two small things, his side are poised to shoot up the table.
“We had a really tough opening block of six fixtures but we were playing some great rugby and I think we took a few teams by surprise by running them close,” he added.
“Getting those two wins and a few bonus points has put us in a great position – we’re in contact and hopefully we can get a couple of wins in this next block of three games.
“That would keep us in touch and put pressure on the teams above as we try to achieve our goal of the top seven.
“We were in contention by putting in fantastic defensive performances and I think for us to really kick on we need to continue those defensive efforts while also improving the attack and proving more of a threat.
“It’s about having a bit more of an attacking mentality and being more threatening towards teams.”
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