London Welsh captain Jonathan Mills admits the Exiles’ scrum will be crucial to whether they sink or swim in the Aviva Premiership season – and he’s backing the Exiles to stay afloat, writes Paul Eddison.
Second row Mills has overseen a promising start to the campaign that has seen Welsh pick up Premiership wins over Exeter, Sale and Bath and move to tenth in the table.
Last time out they failed to build on their win over Bath however and sunk to a 42-15 defeat at home to the Chiefs in the LV= Cup.
Mills and co will get the chance to put that right when they visit Gloucester in the same competition this weekend.
But Mills is the first to admit that Premiership survival is his side’s top priority, and believes the pack could play a huge part.
“In the Aviva Premiership if you haven’t got a scrum you have no chance. You have to have a platform to play off,” he said.
“It’s such a big part of the game by getting penalties, three points here, three points there and putting sides under pressure, a good scrum is a massive deal nowadays.
“If anything it has turned into one of our weapons and long may it continue. Hopefully we can keep putting people’s noses out of joint by winning a few more penalties and keep putting them under pressure.
“With the LV= Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup, you take each game and see where you are after it. We lost to Stade Francais and then got a win, and we’ve lost this game so it’s a tough one. You have one eye on the league all the time.
“We have eight-point games, that’s how we look at it. At the end of the season it might just be one point that keeps us up.”
While admitting it’s the league that matters most to London Welsh, Mills was adamant that last weekend’s thumping defeat to the Chiefs – who rested a number of players – was far from good enough.
And he urged his side to regain some pride at Kingsholm.
He added: “We’re a bit battered from the weekend and disappointed with the result we had against Exeter, especially with them making so many changes from their first team starting line-up but they had a lot of hunger in their side.
“That’s not an excuse, we felt we were in the game but we move on to Gloucester this weekend. We only made a few changes but we haven’t got a massive squad. We all know the bread and butter is the league and that’s where we need to perform to the best of our ability.
“It’s hard to keep people fresh. We knew coming up this season it would be 22 finals, if we could win as many of them as possible then it would give us a good chance of staying up.”
The LV= Cup. Watch the next generation break through. For tickets and info, visit lv.com/rugby