INTERVIEW: London Irish’s Ruan Botha relishes Premiership and European Challenges ahead

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London Irish v Bayonne Irish score a try.

LONDON Irish forward Ruan Botha says that the team are eager to show that they belong among the top clubs in Europe.

“The coaching staff have set us targets to go out and show that whenever we are given the chance to play, to show that we belong in these competitions in both the European Cup and the Premiership,” said Botha. 

“We’re eager to show that we belong alongside the top clubs.”

Irish are back in Gallagher Premiership action this weekend away at Bristol Bears, following two European Challenge Cup ties in the previous two weeks.

“Firstly we want to get over the hurdle of the Bristol game this weekend and then after that we will look to the two ties against Toulon back in the European Challenge Cup,” continued Botha.

“Bristol will of course be a very difficult game, we faced them in pre season. For both sides, there are strengths in each team, they’ve shown at the start of this season that they have a lot of strengths to their game.

“Personally I think it we’ll see which ever pack dominates, will be the team that controls the game and will probably be the team that ends up winning the game.

The Exiles go into the Premiership game on the back of a bonus point win at the Madejski Stadium against Bayonne in the European Challenge Cup. 

“It was like training ground rugby with both sides going through the motions and exposing each other’s weaknesses and flaws in the game.

“As soon as we tightened things up from our side, we were in control of the contest and pushed on from there.

“The bonus point is everything we play for. We always want to focus firstly on getting the win and then being able to get a bonus point against one of the top teams is very pleasing.

“For us as a team, and for me personally, this competition is a great challenge. We have lots of talent in the squad, but both competitions, the cup and the league, are equally as important and tough for us so we really want to give our all to do the best we can in both of them.

“We’ve been disappointed in ourselves as a team in the games that we have lost, especially when we look back to the first home game against Sale, we knew the challenge that would be in front of us against a tricky opponent but we didn’t turn up on the day and we have no one to blame other than ourselves for that.”

The 6’8 South African expressed his gratitude towards the club for making him so welcome at Irish since joining in the summer alongside a host of new signings following the clubs promotion back to the top tier of English rugby. 

“The thing about London Irish, it doesn’t matter where you come from or what rank you are, everyone does their best to make you feel comfortable. 

“After the first few days that I got here, it already felt like I had been at the club for months so the club has done a great job in making us all feel comfortable and accommodating us.

We feel that welcoming spirit always when we play at home at the Madejski, that’s where it counts most. We have lots of trustworthy fans who always turn out to support the team no matter what. 

“The crowds here in the UK since I have arrived have been fantastic and their brilliant support always makes playing the game a whole lot easier.”

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