Aviva Premiership
London Irish turn to Barry McGuigan for inspiration
ESPN Staff
September 11, 2013
London Irish had little to celebrate last term but they are determined to find some fight this season © Getty Images

London Irish have turned to former WBA featherweight champion Barry McGuigan for inspiration as the seek to battle dropping out of the Aviva Premiership this term.

Irish started off their Aviva Premiership season with a 42-20 loss to Saracens on Saturday and many are tipping the Exiles to be struggling near the foot of the table at the end of the campaign.

But in an attempt to take the club back to their "fighting Irish roots", Irish coach Brian Smith has taken the team along to McGuigan's gym in Battersea to take in Commonwealth super-bantamweight champion Carl Frampton's training session ahead of his fight in Belfast next month.

And McGuigan hopes the Irish players reaped the benefits of their trip to the gym. "I know last year wasn't a great year for them but they are a great squad of players and if they can get their head right, they can do big things," Barry McGuigan told the Telegraph. "If this is going to give them a little bit of a lift at all, that is the objective.

"Brian wants to make the club more Irish and they are all incredible-looking athletes and I really hope they can gel and play as a team and I want to encourage them as much as I can and really help them. If they want to come back here and have a bit of fun and do a bit of padwork and help them with their cardiovascular fitness, Shane [McGuigan's son] will get them into shape."

Smith was hopeful the experience will benefit the squad over the course of the season. He added: "The boys love their fights and the hard work has been during the pre-season and this is a bit of a treat for the boys to see Carl and shake hands with him because we believe he is going to win a world title. We also feel the McGuigans are part of our family. Our boys have nothing but admiration for Carl.

"It is a different game to ours but Barry was talking about the mental aspect as well and we know we have got big challenges ahead of us but like Carl we will roll our sleeves up and get stuck in and give it our best shot.

"We play with the shamrock on our shirt and there are a lot of teams around the world who do that. There is something about the fighting Irish that we can identify with. As a club we want to be honest, hard-working and true to what we would say is the fighting Irish spirit."

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