Toby Booth looks to bolster London Irish squadBy Alan Manicom
February 10, 2010
London Irish coach Toby Booth expects to bring in two or three new faces next season.
And he is hoping that he will be able to bolster his squad with a mixture of rising young stars and established experienced players.
Former London Irish star Riki Flutey has already been linked with a return to the club. The England centre is expected to come back to play in the Guinness Premiership after being told by cash-strapped Brive that they will not hold him to his current contract.
Since the start of the year, clubs have been permitted to approach rival players whose contracts are up in the summer.
And Booth revealed: “We are kicking on. We have some young potential that we are looking at.
“Obviously it is a balance about getting your serious campaigners and the ones that have got proven track records. It is a bit of a balancing act.
“We are getting more towards a more middle-aged squad now so we are looking to re-enforce the bottom and just add a little bit at the top if we need it.”
Booth acknowledges, though, that he does not have as much room to manouvre as he would like.
He said: “The economic environment bites everybody and it is going to be a tough year for us, because when you only want to recruit two or three players, you haven’t got much flexibility to chop and change.
“The choice is either like for like or to use up different resources in different areas. Everyone talks about not changing too much, but there is a middle ground that gives a bit more flexibility.”
Booth added: “You don’t want to be robbing Peter to pay Paul, so from that point of view if you have six players off contract you have an opportunity to have more flexibility.”
Exiles’ boss is delighted that three of his team’s highly rated internationals have been tied down to the club after agreeing contract extensions.
But Booth still has the difficult job of improving London Irish’s squad, while remaining in the £4million salary cap.
He said: “You can imagine from a financial outlay that keeping Delon Armitage, Steffon Armitage and Clarke Dermody comes with a price.
“You want to reward the players who you think are going to take this club to new heights and match the ambitions of the club, directors and fans. But you have to pay the price.”