The Wokingham Paper

INTERVIEW: Macken determined to put things right as London Irish get ready to party

Brendan Macken and new signing Albert Tuisue came off the bench
Brendan Macken is determined to get back to winning ways this weekend

Brendan Macken says London Irish are determined to put things right when they return to the field on Saturday.

The Exiles suffered a shock 26-12 defeat at Yorkshire Carnegie last time out, just their second league defeat of the campaign, as their lead at the top of the Championship was cut to eight points with five games to play.

They will be expected to get back to winning ways this weekend when Doncaster Knights visit Madejski Stadium for the club’s biggest game of the year, the annual St Patrick’s Party match which always draws the largest crowd of the campaign.

Fans will be out in force on Saturday

And Macken says the players are itching to correct the mistakes of two weeks ago.

“Yorkshire were really good and they won all the 50/50s and collisions,” Macken told The Wokingham Paper.

“Unfortunately we came out second best.

“Hopefully we’ll turn a few wrongs into rights this weekend.”

He added: “We were in a pretty determined mood after the Yorkshire game.

“We weren’t ourselves that day and we had some pretty tough training last week. I think the squad benefited greatly from that.

“We’re in good stead this week to play Doncaster, who are a good side. They’ve had a few good wins of late.

“They’re going to come to Madejski looking for a scalp.”

Macken has featured regularly in recent weeks

This weekend will be the first taste of the St Patrick’s Party for Irishman Macken.

And the centre hopes the on-field performance can match the occasion.

“It’s going to be a great day,” he said.

“Hopefully we’ll get a good crowd, the best of the year. It’s sure to be a cracking atmosphere and hopefully we can play some good rugby which will add to the crowd and the atmosphere.

“We had to work really hard in the reverse fixture at Doncaster (26-17 win). I think we came in at half-time thinking the game was done and it was far from done.

“They showed a lot of spirit and a lot of heart. They’ve had a couple of good wins recently.

“They’re a well-organised defence on both sides of the ball. It’s going to be a tough game but that’s why we’ll have to be at our best.”

While Irish’s defeat to Yorkshire was a surprise, it came on a weekend of shocks with second-placed Ealing losing at struggling Richmond while rock-bottom Hartpury College also picked up a win.

And Macken says that shows just how tough clinching promotion will be.

Mike Coman has been forced to retire

“People talk about the Premiership being competitive but the Championship is just as competitive,” he said.

“I don’t think many people would’ve thought Richmond were going to go and get that result against Ealing and the same with Yorkshire against us. It just shows how competitive it is.

“The mind is firmly, firmly focused on the next five games.

“We’ve got to prove a point now to get this club back where it belongs in the Premiership.”

The big news out of London Irish this week came off the field with the sudden retirement of Mike Coman.

The club’s former player of the season has been forced to walk away from the game at the age of just 31 after a long-standing hamstring injury.

“He’s a great guy, Mike,” said Macken.

“I’ve actually played against him a couple of times when he was up playing for Edinburgh. He’s going to be sorely missed.

“It was a shame that I couldn’t pull on the jersey alongside him because it would’ve been a privilege to play with him.

“It shows the testament of the character that he is. You never see him complaining or you never see him moaning.

“That just shows what a great bloke he is.”

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