Matt Corker admits he has been to some very dark places with London Welsh this season, but is optimistic the club can emerge from the shadows of relegation.

Club captain Corker, who signed a new deal with Welsh earlier this week, has played in 14 of the Exiles’ 20 Aviva Premiership defeats this year – in eight of those they have conceded 50 points or more.

The 32-year-old’s ninth campaign with the Exiles will be back in the Greene King IPA Championship and with performances improving under new head coach Rowland Phillips, Corker says there is optimism around the club.

Welsh have also made no secret of their intentions to mount an immediate return to the Premiership, highlighted in the re-signing of 15 players and the acquisition of 12.

  •  Sport

Corker said: “We have taken a step in the right direction and we are making progress.

“We have been to some really dark places this year, it has been really difficult.

“What does not kill you, only makes you stronger and we are not dead yet.”

He continued: “It is a very tough league, there are some fantastic teams, some of the best in the world.

“We knew it was never going to be easy, but that does not take anything away from the experience.

“I have still learnt a great deal and it is important we take it into next season.”

The Exiles still have two games to add to their one bonus point and avoid becoming, statistically, the worst team in Premiership history.

League leaders Northampton Saints await today, before Welsh welcome Saracens to Oxford’s Kassam Stadium on May 16.

Corker said: “We know what Northampton are after.

“They want to beat us and beat us well, and that is something we are not interested in.

“There is no way we want to roll over and let them run riot.”