RUGBY UNION: Welsh need to focus on big picture, says Burnell

8:10am Saturday 4th January 2014

By Ed Mezzetti

Justin Burnell played down the importance of topping the table ahead of London Welsh’s trip to Jersey today.

A single bonus point would be enough for Welsh to supplant Bristol and retake first place in the Greene King IPA Championship.

While head coach Burnell is keen for a comprehensive victory after disappointing league defeats to Bedford and London Scottish, he is keen to keep the big picture in mind.

“Bristol have gone to the top after winning their last two matches, but it keeps coming back to the same thing,” said Burnell.

“The league is not going to be decided now.

“The last thing we want is to go unbeaten through to the play-off semi-finals and then miss out.

“These defeats have given us an opportunity to have a good look at ourselves.”

The Championship’s tightness is shown by just eight points separating the leading six teams and Burnell stressed the respect his side had for all their opponents.

He said: “It is a very competitive league. You saw that with Ealing pushing Bristol all the way.

“Everybody sees London Welsh as a scalp to have.”

Jersey have made incredible progress in recent years, rising up the leagues to secure promotion to the Championship in 2012.

They have won three of their 11 matches this season, but were deducted two points after playing No 8 Ben Maidment when the RFU ruled him to still be suspended.

Jersey suffered a blow last month with the resignation of director of rugby Ben Harvey, but this week confirmed the appointment of a new head coach in Harvey Biljon.

Meanwhile, domestic rugby this week has been dominated by talk of the four Welsh regions joining England’s top 12 clubs in an Anglo-Welsh Premiership.

Should this take place, the decision could also have implications on promotion for Championship clubs such as London Welsh.

Either way, Welsh head coach Justin Burnell is keeping focused on what he can control.

“I have not really read about it or taken any notice yet,” he said.

“We are not working on getting things ready for Saturday.

“We will cross that bridge when and if we come to it.”

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