Rotherham Titans v London Irish: It's been a steep learning curve, admits captain Will Owen

GIVEN he is still only 23, Will Owen can be forgiven when admitting some of the decisions during his Rotherham Titans captaincy may have been 'questionable'.

Will Owen.
Will Owen.

It is a young age to be in charge of any side, let alone one competing in the arduous and highly competitive Championship, but, after some teething problems, it is a role he is beginning to embrace.

Indeed, the strong-running centre leads his side against relentless leaders London Irish today - in fairness, no captain of any vintage has overseen a victory over the relegated Premiership side yet - with greater confidence in his position.

“I won’t lie to you, it has been tough and a steep learning curve,” said Owen, who was put in charge by head coach Justin Burnell ahead of this campaign.

“What makes it difficult is that we’ve been coming back from being down in matches quite a lot this season.

“I’ve not captained a side since Under 16s. We’ve been behind early in games and there is then pressure on the decisions you make on the pitch.

“I’m getting better at that now but earlier in the season there might have been a few questionable calls.

“I’ve found my feet a bit, though, and I am enjoying it.

“It was a surprise at the time and I wasn’t expecting it but it’s a challenge I’m happy to take on.

“I’ve brushed up on some of my speaking skills, too.”

He and his colleagues will have to brush up on all their skills if they are to defy the odds and end Irish’s 100 per cent record this afternoon; the visitors boast All Blacks’ double World Cup winning tighthead prop Ben Franks as well as British Lions prop Tom Court to name just two stars.

But the former Moseley player said: “I definitely feel London Irish can be beaten this season. We’ve said it time and time again as a side that, on our day, we can beat any team in this division.

“We’ve won games where we’ve come strong in the last 20 minutes and that’s testament a lot to our fitness when other sides might struggle. But we know Irish will go for t6he full 80 and, so, we have to make sure we do, too.”

Rotherham’s Joe Graham starts at hooker for the injured Luke Cole (knee) and Tom Hicks has recovered from injury to return for second-row Oli Curry while scrum-half George Tresidder is preferred to Matt Dudman.