Mapusua: London Irish have talent to challengeBy Matthew Sadler
April 29, 2011
Seilala Mapusua believes everything is in place at London Irish to win silverware in the next couple of years.
Mapusua, who is leaving Exiles after five years to join Japanese side Kubota Spears, marked his final appearance at Madejski Stadium with a try during Saturday’s 26-20 defeat to Northampton Saints.
And the centre insists that the club can continue to grow, despite a number of first-team players leaving this summer.
He said: “We have shown this year and in previous years that on our day and when things click we are pretty hard to beat.
“I think the ambition of the club and the character of the team is what has got us to where we are now.
“There are a few players leaving, but there are some quality players joining the side.
“There is a good core group of guys who have been here for the last few years and I have no qualms about London Irish continuing to push for silverware in the future.”
Coach Toby Booth has already recruited Shontayne Hape, Joe Ansbro, Steven Shingler, James Sandford and Leo Halavatau for next season.
However, Mapusua, Elvis Seveali’i, George Stowers, Ryan Lamb, Alfredo Lalanne, Jamie Lennard, Chris Malone, Dan Murphy, James Tideswell, Jon Fisher, Ben Stevenson and Will Johnson will all be leaving Irish after the final game of the campaign at Leicester on May 7.
Booth said: “A World Cup year distorts everything anyway because of players’ availability. But with small squads sizes and wage caps I want players that can play for London Irish.
“I don’t give a hoot about what happens internationally. I want players at the club week-in week-out, that are ambitious and that want to push this club as far as it can go.
“That is important along with the skill set of the players you want because we play a certain way and always will, while myself and Catty (Mike Catt) are involved in this organisation.”
One player who has been heavily linked with a move away from Irish is flanker Steffon Armitage and French giants Toulon claimed two weeks ago that the 25-year-old has already signed for them.
However, Booth insists that although there has been contact between the two clubs no deal is imminent.
“They want him, there is no question about that,” he added.
“Steffon Armitage is the middle of a three-year contract. He is one of my best players and I want to keep him. He is important to the team and has world-class attributes.
“If somebody else wants him and he wants to go then I can’t control that, but I can control the exit that is certain.
“I would be very foolish to let him go without financial payback or a replacement.”
Booth joked: “We have to release his registration form, I wouldn’t be surprised if Steffon is still here, I can be quite awkward when I want to be.”