FERGUS MULCHRONE says it is “humbling” to be named as London Irish’s player of the month.
The 30-year-old centre suffered a frustrating start to the season as he was forced to withdraw early on during the opening day victory over Harlequins at Twickenham.
That hamstring problem left him out of action for almost two months before returning at the end of October.
And he has come back in fine shape, playing all four matches in November which led to his selection from the Irish coaches as player of the month.
“It’s good to get recognition and humbling from the club and the management,” Mulchrone told The Wokingham Paper.
“It was very frustrating to get injured.
“I had the whole family over from Ireland, my parents were there and my brother Charlie was on the bench for Quins.
“So coming off in the first 20 minutes was very gutting but the feeling at 80 minutes, even though I’d only done 20, was very rewarding because we came away with the win and came away with five points which was even better.
“I’m happy to get the game time now and build it up and up.
“Now I’ve got my full fitness back, it’s just about giving everything I can with the team to get the win.”
November also saw a first for Mulchrone as he donned the captain’s armband for the first time since joining London Irish from Rotherham Titans in 2013.
And while it was a forgettable result, with a young side going down 47-7 at Gloucester in the Anglo-Welsh Cup, he says it was a responsibility he enjoyed.
“It was really good,” he said.
“It was a great honour to be able to after being here for my fifth year now.
“The youngsters put on a very, very good showing against a very strong Gloucester outfit.
“It was a good experience.
“The boys didn’t disappoint. We gave it everything we had and I felt we held them very well for 60 minutes and then in the last 20 they were too strong for us and capitalised.”
Last month also saw the Exiles slip to the foot of the Aviva Premiership table and they are now six points adrift of second-bottom Worcester Warriors, with the pair due to clash next Friday.
Mulchrone is no stranger to a relegation battle at Irish, coming out on both sides, but he says the mood around the club is vastly contrasting to when they went down in 2016.
“It’s a much different feeling,” said Mulchrone.
“We know we’ve got the boys. We’re having a few unlucky spells with injuries and it’s slowly coming together.
“We just need to find what clicks for us and work on a few things on the training ground to try and get back to what we think does suit our style of play with the players that we have.
“We’re hoping that in the next block of Prem games we can put in a much-improved performance and hopefully come the end of the 80 minutes we’ll be able to say that we have the win.”
Before that, Exiles host Stade Francais in the European Challenge Cup on Saturday (3pm).
And Mulchrone insists full focus is on that game before switching to the huge Worcester clash.
“100%,” he said when asked if all eyes are firmly on Europe.
“It’s been all Stade focussed and that’s the task we have ahead of us.
“If we start looking a few weeks in advance, although we know that Worcester is a big game, we start to get ahead of ourselves and we could probably do more damage than anything if we completely write off Stade and just turn up and play.
“We have to be able to prepare, focus and execute at the weekend.”
Mulchrone is one of a number of first team stars rested this weekend as Nick Kennedy again gives some of his fringe members a chance to shine.
There are four changes from defeat at Edinburgh with Lovejoy Chawatama, Conor Gilsenan, Tom Woolstencroft and Theo Brophy Clews all handed starts.
LONDON IRISH XV: Tonks, Ransom, Fowlie, J. Williams, Loader, Brophy Clews, Steele, Reid, Woolstencroft, Chawatama, Lloyd, De Chaves (c), Gilsenan, Cooke, Lomidze.
Reps: Gleave, Elrington, Du Plessis, Basham, Curtis-Harris, Brand, M. Williams, Cokanasiga.