Casey: Irish are up for Saints testBy Matthew Sadler
December 31, 2009
Bob Casey admits that Saturday’s match at Northampton Saints (3pm kick-off) will be a huge test of London Irish’s title credentials.
Exiles go into the game on the back of a 23-19 win over Guinness Premiership leaders Saracens, a result that lifts them back into second and ahead of Northampton in the table.
But the second-row knows just how tough an encounter his side will face at Franklin’s Gardens.
He said: “It’s a massive game. They have an incredible home record and have a great squad there.
“They are very physical so we will have to prepare really well and go there with the right mind-set.
“It will be a massive effort for us. They are unbeaten at home for a year and a half so it is a massive challenge. We like a challenge. This is a special bunch of lads and we will really go for it.
“The Premiership is absolutely relentless. There are no easy games, it’s a cliche but it’s true.
“It is such a physical contest, but that’s what makes it even more satisfying when you win.”
Toby Booth broke the news to fans after the Saracens game that both Delon and Steffon Armitage had signed new contracts with the club and Casey believes those deals show that the London Irish ‘family’ are making great strides forward.
He said: “Steffon has been brilliant for us all season. He really is a special talent to be able to get to the level of consistency he is achieving at such a young age.
“We are delighted that they have both decided to stay with us – it just shows what direction this club is moving in.
“They have been at the club for such a long time and they are both seriously talented players.
“They are both England internationals and Steffon is one for the future. He has been massive for us week in week out.
“We are a family club and we like to keep everyone together.”
Irish go into the game full of confidence after overturning a 10-point deficit against Saracens and Casey admits he always believed his side would beat the league leaders.
He said: “The squad is really happy with the Saracens game and the coaches here are really excellent.
“We kept going and kept trying to play which I think you have to. Once they get ahead they are a very hard side to get back at, but I don’t think they are a great chasing side.
“That conversion (after Elvis Seveali’i’s try) was vital because it put us four points ahead.
“They had dropped four back for the kick chase, but they had to bring them up and that played into our hands.
Casey added: “We really feel like we are making massive strides here.
“Saracens are a great side and they were unbeaten up until the end of December, so we had to work really really hard for the win.
“We believed that we would break them in the last 10 minutes and that is what we did so it was very satisfying.
“It was a real 23-man effort for our boys and we knew that if we kept going with the ball in hand and made them work as hard as we could then they would be dead on their feet for the last 10 minutes.”