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Paice thriving in Exiles battle

When it comes to London Irish, no current player knows the club better than David Paice, and the hooker is confident they can secure Aviva Premiership Rugby survival this season.

At 32, Paice is the joint longest-serving player at the club, having made his debut all the way back in 2004 in a game against Northampton Saints.

A further 12 years on and he finds himself in the midst of an almighty relegation battle, as Irish sit 12th with four rounds to go, four points behind 11th-placed Newcastle Falcons.

A losing bonus point at Worcester Warriors last time out allowed them to close the gap, and with the two sides set to meet in a fortnight’s time, beating the drop is still in the Exiles’ hands.

And for Paice, performing under pressure will be the ultimate test for Irish, and a challenge he is relishing.

He said: “There is huge pressure on us at the moment, but I really enjoy those games where you know you have to win.

“The next few weeks are going to be huge for us, but we’re feeling good.

“We maybe didn’t get the rewards for our performance against Worcester, and a couple of little handling errors cost us.

“But it’s a great bunch of lads and the players are training really well.

“We’re back at home this week (against Sale Sharks), and we’re really looking forward to going out and playing in front of the home fans.

“We feel like our performances have picked up a bit over the last five or six weeks, and now we just need the results to follow.

“There’s not too many games left but we just need to start taking our opportunities.”

For the eight-cap England hooker, this season has also seen him take on a mentoring role with fellow No.2 Tom Cruse – a summer signing from Rotherham.

And while the position of the club has meant it’s been a difficult campaign – Paice is hoping to finish on a high.

“It’s been hard with the position we are in but I think things are picking up,” he added.

“Our scrum has been going well and I feel like I’ve played my part around the park.

“It’s been good having Tom Cruse here and he’s been playing really well. It’s important to have a couple of players in that position and we’ve been pushing each other. I’ve enjoyed playing with him.”

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