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Green Pastures: Blaney braced for chance to shine

Far away from the intense focus of the international scene, the LV Cup kicked off last night with many frustrated men eager to prove themselves.

Image: Niall Carson/PA Archive/Press Association Images

WITH THE BIGGEST names in international rugby set to do battle over the coming month, it’s down to the loyal club-men to hold the fort and make sure the season remains on track.

Former Leinster hooker Brian Blaney is one of that troop.

It’s been a disappointing beginning to the season for London Irish as they languish second from bottom of the Aviva Premiership.

And the Terenure man has been able to do little more than watch on as David Paice and Scott Lawson – who have been named on the bench for England and Scotland this weekend respectively – line up as hookers in six defeats from eight games.

“Yeah, that’s the problem with two international hookers there: it gets quite frustrating.” Says Blaney. “But you just have to keep your head down, use your experience to know how to cope. You just have to keep your head down and wait for your opportunity.”

The opportunity has arrived with the opening round of the LV Cup this weekend. Blaney will start in the front row against Sale Sharks, the only club below them in the league. Yet also the side who inflicted their most recent 21-9 defeat.

“It was disappointing just not getting something from it.” Blaney says ruefully. “We clawed our way back well, but leaving there without at least a losing bonus point was quite upsetting.”

At a club jokingly branded London Samoa in recent years owing to the shift in recruitment policy. Blaney has been delighted  to welcome a few familiar accents through the doors this summer.

“Now, I don’t know the ins and outs of it, but it seems to be (head coach, Brian) Smithy’s made a conscious effort to get more Irish lads in and I think it’s great for the club. We are London Irish, at the end of the day. To have that Irish contingent  is brilliant and we can try and build on it hopefully.”

For now though, Blaney is just looking forward to the chance of showing what he is capable of in a side which he expects to be not far removed from the strongest XV they can pull together for league duty.

“It’s a great opportunity for a lot of the lads. Some lads are away, but we’re going to be fielding a very strong side. And I think that’s something we’ve made a point of this season. We’ve put a strong side out on all fronts, hoping to get in with a chance of some silverware.”

Blaney adds: “I think it’s just a matter of putting things right. I know it’s a different competition, but it’s still Sale v London Irish at the end of the day. We got beaten down there last week, but now they’re coming to our home. So, we have to make sure we beat them and beat them well.”

©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Almost two and a half years into the three-year contract he signed after passing Richardt Strauss on his way out of Leinster, Blaney insists he is not yet worried about is not yet willing to think of ending or extending his associations at the Madejski Stadium. He and his fiance are settled in the English capital, and the only things he pines for from home are the irreplaceables.

“It’s much the same (as playing rugby in Dublin), London’s a brilliant part of the world – obviously you miss your family and your friends, but that goes with he territory when you’re a professional sportsman.

“They’re the most important things in your life; nieces and nephews, spending time with them, all that kind of stuff… but there’s plenty of time for that after rugby.”

Elsewhere in the LV Cup….

Last night the all-English affair ended with an impressive 38-21 triumph for Mark McCall and Saracens over the Leicester Tigers

Cardiff Blues upset the form book to defeat Wasps 22 -17 at the Arm’s Park while the Ospreys also kept the Welsh flag flying with a 33-27 home win over Gloucester.

Later today, Northampton host Conor O’Shea’s Harlequins as the Dragons and Scarlets cross the Severn to face Bath and Worcester respectively.

Tomorrow; along with Blaney’s Irish, London Welsh are in action, but stiff a stiff task against the an Exeter Chiefs side who have lost few men to international duty.

Preview: New faces in both camps, but Ireland facing old school Springboks

Fiji’s Josh Matavesi: Racing Metro paid me to skip World Cup

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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