London Irish may currently be going through a revamp but Alex Lewington insists he is in it for the long haul, as the young English wing eyes success for both club and country.
After the World Cup is all said and done this autumn the Exiles’ squad is set to look very different from the current one, with the club set to strengthen its spine from top to bottom after a raft of new signings.
But Irish are not simply waiting for success to come to them as a strong end to the Aviva Premiership Rugby season – not to mention the European Rugby Challenge Cup – would set the tone for next year.
Lewington is one of those players desperate to end the year on a high and, following the departures of Marland Yarde and Tom Homer, much of the back-line’s incisiveness now rests on his shoulders.
His five league tries this year include that eye-catching hat-trick against Saracens in September and the 23-year-old is adamant he can play a huge role in the Exiles’ future.
“Moving to London Irish was originally my big move, it was my chance,” said Lewington, who left Leicester Tigers in 2013. “I’ve never questioned making that move and I haven’t looked back since – my rugby has improved hugely since coming here.
“I definitely feel I’ve stepped up a level again this year, getting that consistent game time on the wing and being certain and confident of your position with the staff week in, week out. When you’ve got the trust of your coaches and they’re right behind you, you don’t look back.
“We’re excited about next season but we’ve got a European quarter-final coming up so there’s a lot still to play for.
“Maybe in the league, to climb up the table to the top seven is unrealistic, but we take pride in our performances so we’re not going to give up.
“But with the new signings, and a very new training facility, the club has a plan for the future and it’s exciting to be a part of – we’re all very much looking forward.
“We got back into the swing of things under Glenn (Delaney) pretty quickly, it’s all still very similar but a few
things have changed here and there that him and Whiff (Richard Whiffin) are looking for us to implement, especially in defence.
“We haven’t leaked a try in the last couple of games so it’s working, and in general we’ve had a pretty easy transition.”
And his ambitions aren’t just limited to the Madejski, with England head coach Stuart Lancaster having a track record for throwing unproven names into the mix.
The likes of Anthony Watson, Jonathan Joseph and Jack Nowell only have a handful of caps each but are set to start for England this weekend – and Lewington takes heart from their rapid ascent to stardom.
“There are a lot of great England wingers in this league so you have to strive to stay with them and keep pushing on,” he added.
“Form is a massive part of that, there are a lot of great players who haven’t been featuring for England – you look at Henry Slade’s performance last weekend, Jack Nowell – but everyone realises if you play well Stuart Lancaster will give you a shot.
“It’s one of the reasons why the performances are so high in the Premiership.”
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