TOP BAR - Fixtures

Matt Symons feeling refreshed by London Irish American adventure

Matt Symons is no stranger to travelling across the globe to play his rugby, but the London Irish lock admits their American adventure has already been one of the finest experiences of his career.

Twelve months back the 26-year-old was turning out in New Zealand for two-time Super Rugby champions, the Chiefs, and found himself regularly jet-setting across the Southern Hemisphere.

But having returned to his home nation to link up with Tom Coventry’s London Irish in Aviva Premiership Rugby this season, Symons is thrilled the opportunity to dust off his passport once again presented itself with the Exiles playing Saracens across the pond in New York.

And the powerful second-row admits the time away has given the squad a new lease of life, as they bid to move themselves away from the bottom of the Aviva Premiership Rugby standings.

“It’s really exciting to have a change of scenery staying out in New Jersey, and training at the New York Jets’ absolutely incredible facility there,” he said.

“One of the really good things I remember from playing Super Rugby was that you could end up going on a tour of sorts for three or four weeks at a time.

“That is really refreshing from a training perspective, rather than being in the same gym week in, week out, and that’s what this trip has given us.

“We absolutely believe this can be a turning point for us. There’s so much that can still happen in the remaining games.

“We’re a tight group who are working extremely hard, and we all see Saturday as a golden opportunity to turn our season around.”

The Exiles play host this Saturday in Aviva Premiership Rugby's first ever overseas fixture when they clash with league-leaders Saracens at the 25,000-seater Red Bull Arena.

Playing at the home of MLS side New York Red Bulls, the Exiles are hoping to harness an area rich in Irish heritage, and the spirit of St Patrick's Day.

And with rugby the fastest growing sport over in the States, Symons can see the presence of the squad is helping grow the game even further in New York.

He said: “We were doing a few drills outside our hotel the other day, just on a bit of grass, and we had loads of people coming over and asking about what was going on.

“Everyone’s asking loads of questions, adults and kids, really insightful questions and it is clear the interest in rugby is there.

“People want to know about how we became professional rugby players and about recovery and things like that. The passion for the sport is here and the professional game can’t come soon enough.

“We are absolutely focused on winning here first and foremost, rather than enjoying ourselves too much, but it’s great to get out and do some work with kids.

“We’ve been doing plenty of promotional work in Jersey City. We saw some kids in hospital who were really enthusiastic about rugby, so it’s great to see how much the game is growing here.”

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