Ex-Quin Stegmann: Welsh are ready for big time return
Seb Stegmann admitted he went a bit bonkers when he scored the try that sealed London Welsh’s return to the Premiership on Wednesday.
But the former Harlequins paceman insisted punters would be mad to back against the exiles still being in the top flight this time next year.
Head coach Justin Burnell’s men beat Bristol 21-20 at the Memorial Ground to secure a 48-28 Championship final aggregate triumph to land safe passage back to the big time they left in 2013.
Burnell is thought to be in the market for the signatures of between 12 and 15 new players to boost the club’s survival chances.
But Stegmann, who partied hard with supporters at the club’s training base and spiritual Old Deer Park home until 4am on Thursday, reckons Welsh have what it takes to make a good impression when they get there in September.
“I joined the club at the back end of last season when we were battling relegation and I would say we have a stronger squad now than we had then,” he said.
“Everyone has talked about our size and strength in the pack and that is only going to stand us in good stead next season.
“We are only going to get stronger.
“We have got ourselves back up and the next challenge is to stay there and it would be a massive achievement if we could do that.”
A man of the match 11-point performance from evergreen fly half Gordon Ross and tries from Carl Kirwan and Stegmann gave Welsh the win in the West Country.
They went in to the match with a 19 point advantage having won the first leg 27-8 at the Kassam stadium and Bristol pushed the exiles all the way until the visitors made the game safe in the final 10 minutes.
And Stegmann admitted Welsh could not afford to relax until he had put the finishing touches on his scrambled late try.
“Everyone was out on their feet in the closing stages. I don’t even know ho I got in position to score,” he added.
“I managed to hack it through and finish it off, but I always thought someone was going to catch me at the end.
“We knew we would win before the game started, but the last 10 minutes were still very tense.
“It wasn’t until I scored my try that the boys knew we were there and could afford to relax a bit.
“I was ecstatic and went a little bit bonkers, to be honest.”
He added: “It feels great to be back in the Premiership.
“It has been a long season. This is the end of our 52nd training week and we have probably only got about 20 days off until we have to start preparing for the Premiership.
“I don’t know what late signings we have made, but they are going to have to come in and hit the ground running.”
And when that time comes, Newcastle away tops Stegmann’s list of fixtures he’d like to see scheduled in for the opening day.
“It is a tough call, but I’d rather get the trip to New castle out of the way while the weather is good rather than in the middle of winter,” he said.