David Paice believes London Irish have pulled off a coup by convincing Scotland gem Blair Cowan to commit his long-term future to the club.
Cowan played a key part in all three of Scotland’s autumn internationals this month, marking his trio of stellar showings with his first international try in Saturday’s victory over Tonga.
The 28-year-old openside flanker returned to the Madejski Stadium this week and promptly signed a new three-and-a-half-year deal.
And despite Irish having failed to hit the heights recently that took them to within a whisker of the Aviva Premiership Rugby title in 2009, Paice believes Cowan’s commitment is a major show of faith in the Exiles.
“Blair Cowan is a great player and he’s a come a long way with us,” said Paice.
“It’s a massive display of confidence in London Irish that he has signed a new deal. I think he recognises that this club matches his ambitions.
“I felt he was one of the best players for Scotland in the autumn internationals and the reason they did so well. The kind of guy he is though, he’ll come back and throw himself right into the task of beating Gloucester this weekend.”
Paice’s own good form peaked with his first try of the season in last weekend’s 33-23 home defeat to Bath Rugby.
But a run of four losses in a row has undone their promising start to the campaign, leaving them 11th in the Aviva Premiership Rugby table ahead of Sunday’s visit from Gloucester Rugby.
And the hooker admits he would sacrifice personal accolades to see the team get some much-needed points on the board.
“It’s always good to get that monkey off your back, but I’d prefer to have won and not scored,” said Paice.
“This season I feel like I’ve been playing some of the best rugby I have throughout my career. I’ve been working a lot behind the scenes, so it’s nice to do well. Now I’ve just got to help London Irish move forwards.
“We gave away a few soft tries against Bath. We made defensives errors and were guilty of a few lapses of concentration, but fair play to Bath for taking their chances.
“We’re on a bit of a bad run, but it does not like a lot has gone wrong. We put in two average performances in our last two games, but we started the season well. So when we play Gloucester it’s important not to panic and play our usual game. There’s a long way to go this season.”
This Christmas, Premiership Rugby is offering fans a special gift with selected tickets for the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final 2015. Click here to find out about this limited offer.