The Wokingham Paper

“We’ve got a squad of fighters” – Nick Kennedy proud of London Irish fightback

kennedy crop
Nick Kennedy was relieved as Irish ended their 11-game losing run

NICK KENNEDY expressed his pride at his London Irish side after they battled back to earn a bonus point against Leicester Tigers this afternoon.

The Exiles trailed 28-13 heading towards the final 10 minutes, but late tries from David Paice and Alex Lewington brought the score back to 28-27 to take a first point since the opening day.

And while it is a fifth defeat in succession for Irish, Kennedy was full of praise for his players.

On his emotions after the late try…

Alex Lewington scored a late try

I’m proud of the boys. They’ve got massive hearts and they’re all fighters. The last five weeks we’ve given ourselves a mountain to climb but they’re fighting until the 83rd minute and ending games very strong, which is excellent.

But we need to stop giving ourselves those mountains to climb. We’ve still got a lot of work to do. We’ve got a lot of improvement to make in our game so we go in now to a welcome break with Europe, where we get a chance to freshen things up slightly in our squad and give the guys that have played an awful lot of rugby a little break but at the same time, keep working on what we need to work on and keep improving as a team.

On going 14-0 down again…

It’s definitely a recurring theme now. That’s five weeks in a row. We talk about improving a lot as a team and that was better because it wasn’t 20 points down as we have been in the last few weeks.

It’s disappointing. We know we need to get better in the first half and we know we need to improve on our defence.

On addressing the slow start…

If I knew the answer, I would’ve done it before today and it wouldn’t have happened. We’ve tried a couple of small little tweaks here and there but ultimately you have to give credit to the other teams. They’re scoring some good tries. Although today the first one I thought was three system errors from us.

But they’ve got some very good players and they’re scoring some very good tries. It just so happens that they’re happening in the first half but again we just have to get better. If we’re defending better then it doesn’t happen.

David Paice crossed the whitewash

On the way Irish are finishing games…

I said to the boys last Monday morning that if it was the other way around and we were in it at half time and then getting blown away in the second half, I’d be worried. But it’s not.

They show huge belief, huge heart, huge work rate and also just that fight in them. That winning mentality where they just keep going and keep going regardless of the scoreboard, which is excellent. It was never going to be easy coming up from the Championship. We’ve definitely got a squad of fighters.

On picking up a first point since the opening day…

It’s all about getting better for us and that was slightly better in that we ran them close at the end. We just want to perform better, especially in the first half so that’s what we’re concentrating on.

On if he feared the worst in the second half at 28-13 down…

I always believed. The boys just stick to what they do, led well by David (Paice) out there and for us it’s always just next job, next job, whatever happens.

On rotating for Europe…

We’ll have a watch of the game and then we’ll select our team tomorrow in our meeting but we do need to freshen a few guys up because it’s been six fairly brutal games. We’ve also got quite a few injuries as well in our squad so it will be a long selection meeting tomorrow.

On if anybody will recover from injury soon…

Napolioni Nalaga is ruled out with a broken arm

Not soon, no. We’ve got quite a few out. Not as many as Quins, they have 46% of the squad out I think. We’re not quite there. We had 19 injuries going into this game, that’s our academy as well as our first team, but our academy train with us every day so they’re a big part of what we do.

In no way is that the reason we lost this game. We put a very strong team out and we could’ve won today.

On Alex Lewington…

He had a long knee injury after being with the Saxons and came back at the back end of last year and was fantastic for us in the Championship. He’s continued that form up into the Premiership.

On Teofilo Paulo…

We’re bringing him on for about half an hour and he’s made a good impact as have all our bench have. Our bench have been excellent. He’ll get his chance at some point and if he takes it he’ll stay in the team.

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