London Irish have lost the respect of the rest of Aviva Premiership Rugby, according to George Skivington.
But with a new coaching team at the helm, and an influx of new signings in pre-season, the captain is adamant the rest of the league are in for a rude awakening this time around.
The Exiles will be led this season by Tom Coventry – formerly of the Chiefs – and with the majority of the rest of his coaching staff also coming over from Super Rugby, there is a wind of change at the Madejski Stadium.
Not since the 2010/11 season have Irish made the top six and for the last two seasons they have ended up down in tenth.
But rather than targeting a specific league finish, Skivington and co are instead looking to re-establish the club’s reputation more than anything else.
“If we are brutally honest, we are not hugely respected in this league,” he said. “We had a few good games last season and some catastrophic games.
“For us it’s about building something and earning respect of the other teams, try to make London Irish a force.
“There is not much value in us talking specifics, we are trying to get respect back in this league.
“London Irish has not been a hugely successful club ever so we are trying to get ourselves to a position where our home ground is not nice to come to, things like that make a difference. Respect is a key word for us.”
Joining Coventry on the coaching staff are Grant Doorey from the Auckland Blues, and Clark Laidlaw from the reigning Super Rugby champions Hurricanes.
Add that to new signings like All Black Ben Franks and British & Irish Lion Sean Maitaland – although both are currently still on World Cup duty – and optimism is starting to spread.
First up for the Exiles is a clash with Skivington’s former club Leicester Tigers and a fast start would suit the lock down to the ground.
“For us as a new squad and a new coaching team, having a long pre-season has probably come at the perfect time for us,” he added.
“This is massively different, all the guys have come in from the southern hemisphere from successful teams down there and they have got a different take on things, which is great.
“It’s refreshing to see from different angles, they have really put a stamp down and asked some big questions of us and set some internal targets for us.
“We know how professional Leicester are, it will be hard work and we will have to front up
“We have worked hard, as have everybody, but we have a point to prove so an early win under our belt would be great to reinforce to players, fans and everyone who stood by us what we are trying to do.”
The 2015-16 Aviva Premiership Rugby Season kicks off on 16 October. To see all of the fixtures click here.