Scotland international Tonks, 26, moved south last month in an effort to establish himself in his favoured playmaking position, having persuaded Edinburgh boss Alan Solomons to release him from the last months of his contract with the Pro 12 outfit.
Tonks, who joined Edinburgh from Northampton in 2012, told The Rugby Paper: “It’s quite an unusual situation leaving so late in the season, but when you’ve been somewhere so long you can get a bit too comfortable and complacent.
“I was playing every week at Edinburgh but was jumping between full-back and fly-half, which was a bit frustrating.
“So when the opportunity arose to come here and focus purely on playing in one position, it’s something I really wanted to do.
“Solly was understanding – eventually! He didn’t want me to leave but we had a good conversation and he agreed not to stand in my way. I’m contracted here next season whether we’re relegated or not and I want to give fly-half a real go.”
Irish face must-win matches at home to Sale next week and away at Newcastle a fortnight later – games that will most likely decide the Exiles’ fate.
Tonks relishes the pressure, though, explaining: “No one wants to be in a relegation battle but I’m pleased to be at what I think is a very good club.
“We’ve got a good squad, with great coaches and I’m enjoying being part of it.
“I’ve arrived at a tough time and we need to win two or three of our last few games, but I’ve been brought here to try and keep Irish up and that’s what I intend to do.
“There’s the added pressure and we know we’ve got to beat Sale and Newcastle, but I’m enjoying having a strong input into how we’re playing. I’m able to take control, which
I couldn’t at Edinburgh, and have a lot of experience I can pass on.”
A former Leicester academy player, Tonks spent two seasons on loan at Nottingham where he worked under London Irish’s current head of rugby operations, Glenn Delaney.
“Glenn was instrumental earlier in my career at Nottingham and he played a big part again in getting me down to London Irish,” Tonks said.
“I joined Nottingham at 19 and loved my time there before I got a chance to move to Northampton and play in the Premiership and Europe.
“I was a young player at Saints and only really got to play when Ben Foden was away with England or Stephen Myler was injured, so to then move to Edinburgh and play nearly 80 matches over four years for them was great for my career.
“It’s good to be with Glenn again now and I went to school with Alex Lewington and know Blair Cowan from Scotland, so it’s been an easy transition.”
Tonks has not played for Scotland since before the World Cup, but added: “No.10 is the position I want to play in and the Scotland coaches have told me it doesn’t matter where I’m playing my rugby, if I’m playing well I’ll be up for selection.”
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