LONDON IRISH’S longest-serving player David Paice has pledged his commitment to the club, despite relegation from the Aviva Premiership.
Exiles lost their place in the country’s top flight for the first time in 22 years this season but Paice, 32, says he has no plans to join the likes of Sean Maitland, Halani Aulika and Andrew Fenby in leaving the club.
And while the hooker acknowledges it will not be straightforward, he feels Irish are well equipped to bounce straight back.
“The Championship is very hard rugby week in, week out,” he said.
“The competition will test us to the limit.
“That said, there is huge potential at London Irish and we want to return to the Premiership at the first time of asking.
“Once back in the top tier, not only do we want to retain our status each year, we also want to thrive.”
Paice has spent 13 seasons at Irish, during which time the forward earned caps for England.
And the Australian-born front-rower admits things have to change quickly, but says he still wants to be a part of it.
“Going down to the Championship allows us to take stock of where we are and what went wrong last season and the seasons before,” he said.
“We haven’t really progressed as a club in the last few years and we need to change that.
“This club is an absolute pleasure to play for and I’ve met a lot of people during my time here that I will keep in touch with for the rest of my life.”
- ALEX LEWINGTON has been named in the England Saxons starting line-up for their clash against South Africa A on Friday.
The Exiles winger enjoyed a fine season for the club, despite relegation, and has been rewarded with a call-up to the national side’s second string.
Lewington starts against the Springboks in a game which will be shown live on Sky Sports 3 (6:10pm kick-off) from Bloemfontein, with experienced senior internationals in Danny Cipriani and Kieran Brookes also involved.
The pair will lock horns again next Friday.
SAXONS XV TO FACE SOUTH AFRICA A: Mike Haley (Sale), Alex Lewington (London Irish), Nick Tompkins (Saracens), Ollie Devoto (Bath), Semesa Rokoduguni (Bath), Danny Cipriani (Wasps), Dan Robson (Wasps), Alec Hepburn (Exeter), Tommy Taylor (Wasps), Kieran Brookes (Northampton), Dave Attwood (Bath), Charlie Ewels (Bath), Donovan Armand (Exeter), Matt Kvesic (Gloucester), Sam Jones (Wasps)