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RUGBY UNION: Exiles' coach Burnell back at old stomping ground
JUSTIN Burnell can look forward to a real homecoming when he takes London Welsh to Pontypridd in the British & Irish Cup on Saturday.
The Exiles’ head coach actually lives in the town and has long-standing connections with the club.
So although the match will be played 120 miles away from his side’s Oxford base, Burnell will feel right at home.
“We’ll be going there knowing full well that they are the reigning Welsh Premiership champions,” he said.
“It is definitely not an easy task.
“It is going to be a massive game for Pontypridd and it has a lot of significance for me.
“I played for Pontypridd and I was their head coach.
“My dad played for them before that and my son plays for their under 11s. We live in Pontypridd as well.
“I don’t want to be going there and losing, do I?”
Burnell, who was a back-row forward, added: “I have got some really fond memories of my time at the club.”
Welsh lost for the first time in their B&I Cup opener against London Scottish last Saturday, going down 32-26.
Although frustrated, Burnell stressed that the Exiles’ training since had been “no different than any other week”.
He added: “There is a bit of disappointment in the air, but it is all about moving forward.”
With tough games to come against Cornish Pirates, Leeds and Bristol in the Greene King IPA Championship, Burnell said a good performance this Saturday was vital.
“We have got three massive league games after this,” he said. “We want to make sure we are ready for those.”
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