London Irish forward Skivington is up for cupBy Alan Manicom
November 16, 2012
George Skivington is expecting a rough ride from his old Leicester team-mates when they clash in the LV= Cup on Sunday, eight months after winning last season’s competition together.
The 6ft 6in second-row forward will be returning to Welford Road for the first time since leaving to join London Irish in the summer.
He said: “I still have a lot of pals there and I’ve been having a bit of banter with Geordan Murphy.
“I had a coffee with him and we had a laugh, saying we would see each other in a couple of weeks.
“They won’t be taking it easy on me just because I am an old boy, they will be giving me more.”
The LV= Cup is seen as the poor relation to more prestigious competitions like the Aviva Premiership and Heineken Cup.
But Skivington believes Exiles are right to take it more seriously than in the past, fielding their strongest possible side – international call-ups permitting.
As he recalled Leicester’s 26-14 win over Northampton Saints in the 2012 final, he said: “Say what you want about the LV= Cup, but it’s still a trophy and a chance for some guys who don’t get the chance to play every week to show what they can do.
“I like taking to the pitch with a couple of fellas who are little bit nervous because they have not played much rugby. It is interesting to see how they come along and see their mentality.”
And Skivington, who will be 30 next month, claims there are other benefits to be gained from an extended run in the competition.
“It tightens up the squad,” he said. “You get to know young guys in training, but their social circle is a bit different.
“Playing rugby brings people together. You get to see what the young lads are made of, and they get to see what you are made of.
“You remember what it was like as a young lad trying to show people what you can do, and it is good for the old fellas because it freshens them up. It’s a two-way thing.”
Skvington scored his first try for Irish last Sunday as they got off to a flying start in the competition with a bonus-point 34-28 win over Sale Sharks at Madejski Stadium.
He showed a nice turn of pace as he supported a fine break by Topsy Ojo before running around under the posts to give Ian Humphreys an easy conversion.
But Skivington insists that he puts greater emphasis on his overall performance than individual glory.
He said: “I concentrated on the tight part of my game in the last few years at Leicester and I pride myself on doing all the donkey work. Hitting rucks is my bread and butter.
“When it breaks for you to score a try it is a nice feeling, but it’s quickly forgotten.
“After a game I remember the niggly stuff that a front-five player should be good at, which the crowd probably wouldn’t notice.
“But I’m not going to say no to a few tries every now and then,” he laughed.
Leicester are on a high after becoming the first team to beat New Zealand Maori in more than five years.
And Skivington expects to be facing most of the side that won 32-24 on Tuesday.
He said: “They’ll take it easy on them in the week and won’t be scared to play them on Sunday. They’ll field their strongest team because Leicester don’t like to lose at Welford Road.
“I am looking forward to it. There is something special about the place.
“It’s got the old-school bit and the new bit. You run out and there’s stamping and you have to run through the crowd.
“That’s not common place anymore and it’s intimidating for an opponent.
“It gets the butterflies going. I’m looking forward to getting that feeling again.”
Skivington, who captained England Saxons to the Churchill Cup in 2010, is determined to help Irish maintain top spot in the pool.
He added: “Winning is a habit. It is an old cliche, but it is true, no matter who you are playing or what tournament it is.
“We are not lacking in confidence to be honest.
“We know we are a good team and capable of winning, but we keep letting ourselves down at crucial moments.
“But the more we win the better and hopefully it will have a knock-on effect.”