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RUGBY UNION: Long-serving Corker desperate to bounce back at first attempt
London Welsh lock Matt Corker says watching the Aviva Premiership on TV can motivate the players to secure a top-flight return.
A year ago, the Exiles were playing in the Premiership, taking on Leicester and Harlequins in their opening fixtures.
Now, as they prepare for Saturday’s Greene King IPA Championship opener against Bedford Blues at Allianz Park in Barnet – all the opening games are being played at neutral venues – they can only look on enviously at what might have been.
“I didn’t watch too many of the Premiership matches to be honest,” said club captain Corker. “We are focused on what we are doing here.
“It is a shame we are not there any more, but those emotions are really good motivators for us to get back to the Premiership.
“We know that we have got a really good chance to do that. “It is a long season and there is a lot of rugby to be played. “Our first job is to finish in the top four and we’ll take it from there.”
The Exiles will not have played for two weeks by the time they face Bedford, but Corker said that would be a good thing.
“The way that our pre-season was planned was to have three really good games and then a weekend off to freshen-up,” said the club’s longest-serving player. “We are now raring to go.”
Welsh visited Saracens’ Allianz Park ground yesterday to familiarise themselves with the venue and its artificial pitch.
“I played there against Saracens last season,” said Corker. “It makes the game quicker and the only real difference is that you lose a bit of skin off your knees.
“It won’t be hard to adapt to.” Bedford finished runners-up to Newcastle last season, so their clash with Welsh, which follows Ealing against London Scottish, is arguably the most interesting of the opening round.
“Bedford are a great team with some superb players,” said Corker. They were very unlucky last season in the play-off final.
“It is a tough start for us and a big occasion with the double header. That’s really positive.
“Now more and more games are televised that captures the imagination of the public.
“The more people see rugby in the Championship, they will realise it is a great standard. “You will see people with international experience and youngsters just coming through.
“Teams have become more and more professional and the gaps between the Championship and the Premiership is becoming smaller. “The standard is rising and that is fantastic.”
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