Life is tough at London Welsh but after making his Aviva Premiership Rugby breakthrough in the last fortnight, Ben West believes cutting his teeth in this environment can serve him well.
The hunt for a maiden victory this season has been the ongoing narrative for the newly-promoted Exiles, with head coach Justin Burnell chopping and changing in search of a winning formula.
That policy has recently seen 22-year-old lock West come to the fore, making his Aviva Premiership Rugby debut against Harlequins before playing the full 80 minutes last weekend at Kingston Park.
And after waiting patiently for his chance in the top flight, the youngster knows he must work hard to stay in favour at the Kassam Stadium.
“I waited a while,” he said. “The guys in my position are quite experienced anyway so I have been trying to learn as much as possible along the way. Now I am enjoying being in the mix.
“I suppose I have been quite lucky with the team we had last year and the way we got promoted through the league. I hadn’t really thought too much about getting game time in the Premiership.
“With us not getting the wins, stuff is liable to change every week so there is always the opportunity for you to come in and get a chance.
“I’m just trying to learn, really. I know everyone asks ‘is the atmosphere around the club down?’ but we are just all working hard together to get the first win.”
After back-to-back narrow reversals at the hands of London Irish and Harlequins, the Exiles had appeared to turn a corner – but a 38-7 defeat to Newcastle Falcons on Sunday hit them hard.
And West is looking forward to this weekend’s European Rugby Challenge Cup excursion to Bordeaux-Begles, where Burnell’s men have the freedom of playing without pressure.
“It was frustrating for us,” said West after the Newcastle defeat. “We were relatively pleased with Harlequins – we felt like we had taken a step in the right direction.
“It is a bit of a cycle – we have been getting better and better and then we just let it slip. It knocks the confidence a bit.
“I think our defence didn’t really function as we would have liked it to. Against Harlequins we defended for long chunks and did that quite well but against Falcons there were two easy tries, which really knocked us.
“If you look at the brand of rugby they (Bordeaux-Begles) play and the players they have got, they are a top opponent. I think the emphasis this week has been on having a go and trying stuff.
“We have got our own idea of how to play and the coaches have said that if you try something a bit different you are not going to get punished for it.”
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