LONDON IRISH are hoping to pick up where they left off before lockdown - seeking to break into the top six - as the Gallagher Premiership resumes this weekend.
And prop Sekope Kepu, a 100-cap Wallaby who joined the team in May 2019, is confident that they can do it – with the Exiles just two points off their target as they take on Bath at the Rec tomorrow (Saturday, August 15).
“With everything that has been going on it has been quite tough and challenging times for everyone but Bath are a great team and they beat us here at home last time so we will be going out there as best prepared as possible for a win,” Kepu told The Irish Post.
“We've been training hard to make sure we have our heads together and our detail down because it is going to be a massive challenge.”
The fixtures come thick and fast for the Exiles after they face Bath, with a game every four days against Northampton, Leicester and Saracens.
Having now played their last game at the Madejski Stadium, the team will play the remainder of this season’s fixtures at Twickenham Stoop, home to rivals Harlequins.
Over the last couple of months there has been significant changes in the team’s personnel.
Co-captains Franco van der Merwe and Stephen Myler have both departed, but the squad has been bolstered with the arrival of yet another 100 cap Australian international, Kepu’s countryman, Rob Simmons.
“I have played with Simmo for a little while and his experience and leadership skills are massive, and I think he will bring that to the team,” Kepu insists.
“We’ve lost Franco and his captaincy, which is a big loss, but Simmo I am sure will fill those shoes quite well and his addition will only strengthen the team.”
He added: “Blair [Blair Cowan] and Sean [Sean O’Brien] have stepped into leadership roles well and are pushing the team in the right direction, we have been training hard and doing everything we possibly can to make sure come [August 15] we are ready to go.”
With just nine fixtures remaining in the Premiership season Kepu and London Irish are confident that they can push for the European Champions Cup qualification spots.
“We set out at the start of the season that we wanted to finish top six, and that is as brutal and honest as I can be, nothing changes for us, that is our aspiration,” Kepu confirms.
“We are still going to push ourselves to achieve that as best as we can.”