Reviewing the New Signings at London Irish
London Irish on the back of the takeover of the club are certainly making a statement of intent with the announcement of some big signings over the last few weeks. Brian Smith is certainty sticking to his guns by bringing in experienced, international forwards with the aim of creating a pack who can go toe to toe with the best of them.
Arguably the most important signing for next season, Ireland international and Ulsterman Tom Court has committed the next 3 years of his career to Irish. Some people did question and raise speculative eyebrows with his (and indeed the whole of Ireland’s packs) performance against England a few years ago. It is easy to pin the destruction of Ireland’s pack on Court however it is also easy to overlook that he had to cover the other side of the scrum at tighthead. At his preferred position at loosehead he is a different prospect, evident in the win over Leicester Tigers in the Heineken cup. London Irish are arguably their weakest at loosehead, especially after the heavy blow of losing both Alex Corbisiero and Max Lahiff last season, and his skillset of a strong scrummager is exactly what is needed. If he can provide a platform with the rest of the front row it will help provide a solid foundation for the team to attack from.
Harlequins have some incredibly skilful forwards, none more so than Nick Easter and Tom Guest, and it’s no surprise to see Tom Guest leaving quins to get the game time he clearly deserves. Fortunately for Irish fans he has decided London Irish is the place to get it. With the probable departures of club captain Declan Danaher (retiring) and Chris Hala’ufia (potentially moving to France) bringing in a quality backrow player to replace them is a move in the right direction. It is difficult to suggest where he will play, either at 6 or 8, but regardless he will add to the team with his brilliant offloading game and, as stated by Brian Smith, Tom is incredibly quick for a backrow forward. This skillset is a decent fit for the club as it provides something a bit different to what we currently have. He also brings his experience of playing for the England Saxons and being a key part of a team who have won the premiership title.
Unfortunately for Tom Guest he is not a shoe in to start every game. London Irish have a very solid backrow already and this will be bolstered further by another international, Luke Narraway. The ex-Gloucester and England Saxons Captain will be joining next season from French side Perpignan. He shares similarities with Chris Hala’ufia in that he runs hard and usually gets over the gainline, providing front foot ball. Luke, as mentioned above, also brings huge leadership qualities to the club, which will help George Skivingtonon match days.
The best thing about these signings are the fact that since London Irish reached the premiership final they have not replaced their best players when they left and this has led to the change in fortunes of the club. This is probably the first time we have replaced quality for quality (and in my opinion the players coming in a better than players leaving). It certainly should help London Irish climb the table in the years to come.