London Welsh may have endured a difficult time upon their return to the top flight but Aviva Premiership Rugby new boy James Down says he’s relishing every minute.
Despite a swathe of arrivals including former internationals Piri Weepu and Olly Barkley over the summer, head coach Justin Burnell tipped Down
as one to particularly keep an eye on after making the switch from Cardiff Blues.
And though the Exiles have found it tough going in Aviva Premiership Rugby, Down has made good on Burnell’s words – winning the most lineouts in the league (60), making six steals, and also being the club’s second-highest tackler with 119.
The 27-year-old did not arrive at the Kassam Stadium without pedigree however, having represented the Blues in Europe only to suffer a broken leg against Racing Metro in Paris in November 2011.
Although the injury lay-off halted his progress, the 6ft 7in forward did recover to force his way into the Wales squad during the 2012 autumn internationals.
But he admits his career stalled before Welsh came calling – and that the move couldn’t have worked out better.
“I’ve really enjoyed it since I made the move, the step up has been quite noticeable because each team is packed with internationals,” he said.
“The crowds have been unbelievable and the standard is much higher than the Pro 12, I’d say the Aviva Premiership is the best league in the world.
“It’s like playing a European game each week and it’s a real task to play against players like that in the second row each week.
“For me it is just about playing games at the moment, I’ve played quite a bit this year and at a higher level so the move has worked well.
“Last season was difficult, I didn’t play as many games as I would have liked and luckily London Welsh were looking for a second row.”
But according to Down, they are not a team who are about to give up hope of arresting their slump.
“The results have not been as good as we hoped, we’re a squad of winners and don’t like being on the receiving end of defeats each week,” he added.
“For the rest of season we’re hoping to translate the work we do in training into our league results and start getting a few wins on the board.”
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