Former London Irish back rower Luke Narraway reckons the behind-the-scenes culture being created by coaching supremos Brendan Venter and Nick Kennedy will ensure the Exiles thrive on their return to the Premiership.
Technical director Venter has inspired dramatic changes after the mess he inherited following relegation to the Championship in 2016, while rugby director Kennedy and his coaching team have brought youthful energy to a club that was on its knees.
Having played with and against Kennedy and assistants Paul Hodgson, Declan Danaher and George Skivington during his 15-year career, Narraway said: “We’re starting to see a new breed of coach and if you look to the really successful clubs like Saracens, with guys like Alex Sanderson and Kevin Sorrell, that’s the way it’s going.
“Young guys are being empowered and are growing into jobs, and that’s what we’re seeing at London Irish where guys like Nick, Paul, George and Declan are doing things a bit differently and, hopefully, that will provide them with a vital edge.
“I played representative rugby with Nick, Paul and George and played against Declan, a fearless back rower, for many years, as well as being coached by them last season, so I know the structure they’ll bring and I’m convinced Irish have the game to stay up.”
Former England No.8 Narraway, now player-coach at Coventry after quitting professional rugby this summer, helped the Exiles win back their Premiership place last season following a disastrous 2016-17 campaign under Kiwi head coach Tom Coventry.
He added: “There were problems the previous year and I certainly wasn’t sure where the club was going, but the atmosphere and culture they’ve built quickly under Brendan and Nick, and the way they treat people now, is absolutely incredible.
“It’s obviously going to be a tough season but if they stay up, and with the new stadium move to Brentford on the horizon, they can soon re-establish themselves as a year-in, year-out, highly competitive Premiership team that continues to grow.”
Narraway, meanwhile, is desperate to win promotion for a second successive season as ambitious Coventry bid to reclaim a place in the Championship.
He said: “One thing I’ve learnt pretty quickly is Coventry is a big club with expectations.”
Narraway, 33, adds: “My future is towards coaching because the body can only go on so long, but I’ll try to play as many games as I can and it would be great to be part of another promotion-winning side.”