Whiffin wants Exiles to finish with a flourish

Whiffin wants Exiles to finish with a flourish

AS a demanding Aviva Premiership campaign drifts towards its conclusion London Irish backs and attack coach Richard Whiffin remains hopeful the Exiles can ‘finish the season strongly’.

Despite suffering a ‘disappointing’ defeat to Bath Whiffin has been encouraged by how London Irish have performed recently.  “We are still doing well form wise; since the start of 2015 our form is top seven, and we are quite happy with how the second half of the season has went,” Whiffin told The Irish Post.

Whiffin also stressed that the Bath contest was a harsh reminder of the distance London Irish must travel to become serious contenders at this level.

“Over the past 10 to 12 weeks we feel that we have improved, but the Bath defeat also brought a sense of realisation about where the team need to get to.

“Obviously Bath are a few years ahead of us in their development, but we’ve worked hard on certain aspects of our game.

“Overall we are happy with where we are going even though the Bath loss was a disappointment.  They are a good team, though, and the challenge for us now is to finish the season strongly.”

The scheduling of matches is another issue teams must deal with at this stage in the rugby calendar.

“It can be difficult at this time,” Whiffin admits.  “Everybody misses the buzz of the weekend when there is no game - so it can be a bit strange.

“But in another way the players, especially those who have been involved for a few years, are used to the situation at the back end of a season.

“It means that the coaching staff must change focus and it allows a focus to be put on the conditioning element, but it is very important that players are minded at the end of a long, hard season.

“The extra time allows you get plenty of preparation work done too so it is important that you use it wisely and that the work is reflected on a matchday when you get a chance to play.”

With a new Head Coach, Tom Coventry, set to take charge in the summer Whiffin feels that the Exiles’ squad are keen to impress.

“Guys are viewing it as an opportunity.  Those who finish the season with the shirt might feel that they are setting down a marker.

“People know the new coach is monitoring the games so everyone is out to impress, to make an impact because they want to be part of this club’s future.

“There is a professional responsibility too.  They all want to win for the club and for their team mates too so the focus should always be there.

“It is crucial that a sense of enjoyment is kept and that the players are happy training at the end of a gruelling campaign.”

Victories over Gloucester and Wasps could steer London Irish - depending on other results - into ninth place, but Saturday’s encounter at Kingsholm will examine the Exiles’ resolve according to Whiffin.

“They have all worked extremely hard and are really focused.  We have an opportunity to climb up the table by winning our two remaining matches.

“That is the target we should be setting for ourselves. By winning the games we could climb above Gloucester.

“We do know how tough it is going to Kingsholm.  Gloucester have a great record there and have been doing well at home in 2015.

“The Kingsholm crowd is a factor and it helps them a lot, but we need to put pressure on Gloucester.  We will be going there trying to turn them over - which of course is easier said than done.”