J.P. Morgan Asset Management Premiership 7s Series
Geraghty keen to make amends
July 12, 2012
Shane Geraghty is back with London Irish after some time with Northampton and Brive © Getty Images
Shane Geraghty admits he is itching to pull on the London Irish shirt once again and is keen to make up for lost time.
Geraghty will play for the Exiles for the first time since 2009 at Friday's J.P. Morgan Asset Management Premiership 7s Series at the Twickenham Stoop as part of a strong Exiles squad that features five internationals, including new signing Tomas O'Leary. When Geraghty left London Irish in 2009, he was accused of joining Northampton simply for financial reasons - a claim the England utility back has always denied.
So it is not without a certain irony that Geraghty has taken a huge pay cut to return to the Exiles from Brive - he admits only after a persuasive phone call from London Irish boss Brian Smith. "In a way it's nice to come back with unfinished business and it means a lot for me to be able to play for the club so I can appreciate that a bit more really and to work hard to do something this year," said Geraghty. "Basically I wasn't looking to come back to England until Smithy phoned me up and then I reassessed my goals for the next couple of years.
"I was thinking maybe one more year in France then coming back and then when Smithy called it just seemed like an opportunity I didn't want to pass by. Originally when Brian was here the first time he rebuilt the club and I was part of that the first season when we finished third and that led onto other things.
"A lot of players play representative rugby, something that London Irish never had previously under the recent years so the target of mine in years to come was to play for England and coming back to Irish is probably a good way of forcing my way back into the England team. It does seem like a long time since I played for England. A lot has changed and a lot of England managers have come and gone.
"I'm hopefully going to speak to Stu [Lancaster] this summer. But that was a big point in me coming back was to be in England so I'll speak to Stu after the South Africa tour and hopefully meet up with him."
In some ways little seems to have changed as the blond-haired, blue-eyed Geraghty bounds into Irish's Sunbury training base with Smith at the helm, but in fact a lot has happened. Toby Booth and Mike Catt, who were so upset by Geraghty's move to Northampton, have moved on and the fly-half himself is no longer the whipper-snapper who so thrilled Twickenham on his England debut in 2007.
In his place is a more matured, rounded individual who, at 25, will be one of a handful of fly-halves who will be reaching their peak at the 2015 World Cup. But while Geraghty has not featured for the national side since leaving Irish, he has no regrets over his decision to become a vilified Saint.
"From my part I was trying to come with no baggage just come and get on with it and past is the past," he said. "I think all players get a bit of stick for not playing well and making decisions that people do not agree with.
"When any player leaves a club, especially a home-grown one, then some people aren't going to be happy for me. I moved to Northampton I was involved in the Heineken Cup final, semi-final and the Premiership semi-final so in terms of improving my rugby it was a strong club and I experienced a lot there to help my rugby.
"People around me say that I have matured a little bit and with age you get a bit of experience and you try and learn from your mistakes, I'm engaged now and I've got a dog so my life's maybe a bit more settled.
"I'm just looking forward to getting back into the Premiership. You look at the players we have in the backline, and the new signings coming in and when you look around the Premiership I think that's the backline the can play some rugby."
The J.P. Morgan Premiership Rugby 7s Series kicks off on 13 July at Harlequins, with rounds at Sale Sharks and Gloucester Rugby, and the final at Bath Rugby. Visit: www.jpmorgan7s.com to find out more.
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