LONDON IRISH fullback Tom Parton is raring to go in this weekend’s cup clash against Gloucester.
Returning from injury after nearly a year off the pitch, the youngster says that the Exiles have some “world-class players in our ranks” and that they are all “ready to get stuck into the season”.
Saturday’s game in the Premiership Rugby Cup is their first fixture in the tournament and is being played at Kingsholm. It will be followed by a return to the Mad Stad on Saturday, September 28, for a fixture against Harlequins.
It can’t come soon enough for Tom, a former England Under 20 International, but he also feels that the time away has benefitted his game.
“For sure, I was gutted to pick up my leg injury in October last year,” he says. “But in a way, it has allowed me to recognise things I could work on in physiotherapy and in the gym.
“I’ve come through it and it’s definitely been a good thing to go through, remembering what it’s like not have to rugby in my life,” he admits.
“He’s also keen to get on to the pitch and show people what he can do – he scored five tries in six games in the early stages of the Exiles’ campaign last season.
“But I’m really excited about what will be a great season.”
The Premiership Rugby Cup is in its second year, making it the first time that newly-promoted Exiles have competed in it. Tom says that it is a chance for people to see what the team is capable of.
“This season, there are loads and loads of opportunities to get excited over,” he explains. “[As a team] if we’re not excited about it, something is wrong.
“The boys can’t wait to get stuck into Gloucester. We have some world-class players in our ranks.
“We know roughly what Gloucester have in their locker, we’ll do our best to come away with a result.”
And Tom expects high standards from the team, saying that they need to be “more clinical in attack and defence”.
“We have got to get better and better,” he says of the challenge that awaits them in the Premiership.
As the new boys in the league, they come in as underdogs against the established teams.
These two cup fixtures will give people a taste of what to expect in the months ahead, but Tom says that will work to the Exiles’ advantage.
“There is always an element of pressure, but we are really excited about what that [pressure] will bring.
“We’ll be written off a lot, but we’ll go out and play our style of rugby and let the rest take care of itself.”
The Rugby World Cup is about to kick off and in a way, it has been a blessing and curse for the Exiles.
“It’s led to a longer pre-season,” Tom admits. “At times it’s been a bit of a frustration as we just want to get on with.
“It’s also the biggest tournament in the world, taking place every four years. You’d be stupid not to watch it and see the world’s best sides.
“One of the opening games, New Zealand v South Africa, is hell of a first game. Everyone’s looking forward to it.
“And we’re looking forward to seeing our new recruits in action on the world stage.”
Gloucester v London Irish kicks off at 3pm on Saturday, September 21. Highlights will be screened on Channel 5 from 7pm on Monday, September 23.
London Irish v Harlequins will take place on Saturday, September 28 at the Madejski Stadium from 3pm.
For more details, or to book tickets, log on to www.london-irish.com