Topsy Ojo believes London Irish have turned the corner in the 2013-14 season
Topsy Ojo feels London Irish have turned the corner after a slow start, with there cause for optimism at the Madejski.
By Chris Burton
Last Updated: 25/10/12 5:10pm
The Exiles rather stumbled out of the starting gates this season, and have found themselves playing catch-up as a result.
They have, however, returned to winning ways on domestic and European fields over recent weeks, leaving Ojo to predict that better times lie ahead.
He told Sky Sports at a 'bake off' event organised by Aviva ahead of a weekend derby date between Irish and Harlequins: "It's been good. I think we have found our feet in the last couple of weeks. We are playing some really good rugby, scoring tries and the club is a much happier place now. Things are good."
Asked if it was possible to put his finger on why the club started their Aviva Premiership campaign so slowly, Ojo added: "I guess it was all the changes that we had. We had so many new faces come in and old faces leave, there was always going to be that gelling period. Things were quite good in pre-season so the start of the Premiership season was maybe a bit of a shock.
"I don't know. We just needed to get through it. I couldn't put my finger on one thing that it was. As a collective we just needed to buy into what we are trying to do and get that first win, and then kick on from there.
"The belief was always there. You just need that first win to get the confidence and then you start to build. We had people out injured as well and they are now coming back into the team, adding power in the forwards and pace out wide. We looked at the squad and knew that on our day we are capable of competing with anyone. We just needed it to click, and it has done in the last few weeks. We need to maintain that."
Injuries have not been kind to Irish this season, with knocks to senior figures forcing the club to turn to the next generation a little sooner than they would have liked.
That, however, only serves to highlight the club's strength in depth.
Ojo said: "The Premiership is such a tough league and you do need a squad that is going to try and take you all the way. What we are trying to do now is make sure that we have got two or three guys in every position that can chop and change and make sure that guys aren't having to play 30-35 games a season.
"Anthony Watson had a really good game at the weekend. For an 18-year-old kid to come in and play senior rugby and perform the way he did, that was really good. Across the board, the team is actually quite young.
"If you look at the likes of Jonathan Joseph as well, he's only in his early 20s and to be playing like an experienced international and Premiership performer like he is at his age is brilliant. I think we have got a lot of good youngsters that are making their mark this year and that can only be good for the club."
Irish are also hoping that their treatment room will become less crowded as the weeks go on, with a trickle of talent working its way back into the fold.
Ojo said: "Over the last few weeks Chris Hala'ufia has come back in, and that's been a big boost. Tommy Homer has been out for a couple of weeks, and we know how good a goal kicker he is from last season. Shane Geraghty, hopefully if he can get over his injury problems he'll be ready to go and really kick-start his Irish career.
"There are a few guys on the injury front at the moment but if we can get them back that will add to the strength in depth, keep everyone on their toes and keep the whole squad performing.
"Ian Humphreys didn't play the first couple of games, he's come back in and shown what he's about. Then you have got people like Matt Garvey who are missing as well, he's another one who has come in and stepped up. When you are missing that kind of player it does make a difference, but that's the nature of rugby sometimes, unfortunately. You are going to get injuries and that is when you need the squad to pull together and try to fill the void."
An upturn in fortune for Irish suggests they are ready to kick on and Ojo, who became the club's all-time leading try scorer in Saturday's Amlin Cup victory over Mont de Marsan, hopes an improvement across the board will fire him back into England contention.
He said: "I would love another shot at England. I am very happy with my form this season. In the last few weeks I have been scoring every week, which is great for me.
"Irish is my focus, we are looking to climb up the league table and have a massive few weeks coming up - we have got Harlequins coming to the Madejski, which is going to be a massive challenge. But if we can play well in that, hopefully there will be better things to come. That will make it easier to get noticed and I am one of a few in that boat."
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