David Paice insists the future is bright at the Madejski Stadium – and the London Irish hooker wants the turnaround to start this weekend as they look to end an inconsistent Aviva Premiership Rugby season on a high.
Following Saturday’s 35-13 defeat to Gloucester Rugby, Glenn Delaney’s men were confirmed as finishing tenth for the second successive campaign.
Dramatic victories over Leicester Tigers and Exeter Chiefs stand out as highlights in a year during which the Exiles have managed back-to-back Aviva Premiership Rugby victories only once.
But while Paice admits a sense of frustration at the way things have panned out for his side, the 31-year-old is confident things are moving forward, with a new coaching setup one reason for optimism.
“In all honesty the season has not gone well and we are not particularly happy with how it has turned out – the hopes were that we would be higher,” the Exiles hooker said.
“As players we are better than we have shown, so that is obviously quite frustrating.
“Throughout the season we have had a few really good performances, but the issue is that we have not been to able to string it together.
“We know we have a good background as a team to build towards next season, and we are determined to work hard and get a win at the weekend to show our character in the final match.
“It is exciting times at London Irish, and the new coaching setup will put good pressure on players to perform.
“Everyone will be looking to get it running well and that can start against Wasps this weekend.
“We know we are playing for pride on Saturday – I realise it’s an old cliché but it is very true for us as players, and we want to repay the supporters that have followed us through a frustrating campaign.
“They deserve to go out on a high and that means us doing our best and giving them a win.
“We’ve also got a few guys leaving. Unfortunately part of professional rugby means that people move on and we are sorry to see them go, but everybody has been great this year and it would be great to finish with a win before they leave."
If the Exiles are to set off into the summer sunshine with an eighth Aviva Premiership Rugby victory under their belt, Paice recognises the importance of overcoming their disappointment in defeat to 14-man Gloucester in round 21.
Having won just one away game since September in the league, Delaney’s outfit were unable to capitalise on an early red card for Cherry & Whites flanker Matt Kvesic and Alex Lewington’s first-half score.
“We started well at Kingsholm, and I think in the first 20-25 minutes we were dominant in the game – but to be fair to Gloucester, their defence was great and held us out,” Paice added.
“When they went a man down they raised the stakes a bit, and I think the red card also had a bit of an effect on our game – we were probably trying to score too early in passages of play and perhaps we didn’t give their defence the respect it deserved at 14 men.
“We tried to score too quickly and then they were clinical and punished us when they had chances – that was the difference.”
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