Ion: London Irish have learnt from last year's mistakes
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London Irish's Paulica Ion.
PAULICA Ion believes London Irish must learn from their mistakes last year and not take any game lightly this season.
Exiles were sitting pretty at the top of the Premiership table when a much-changed side travelled to Sale Sharks to kick off their 2010/2011 LV= Cup campaign.
The ensuing 39-14 defeat sparked a dramatic turn of fortunes as Irish went on a 10-match losing run that would only be halted with victory over Ospreys in mid-January.
Not only did the slump ruin any ambitions Irish harboured of winning the Premiership, but it saw them suffer serious setbacks in both the Heineken Cup and LV= Cup.
Less than a year after that defeat to Sale, Toby Booth's men are preparing to kick off their 2011/2012 LV= Cup campaign at Harlequins and Ion hopes his team will not fall into another trap.
"We need to keep winning games and keep the mentality and momentum going," the Romanian told the Chronicle. "It doesn't matter if it is the LV= Cup or the Heineken Cup, we need to try to win every game.
"We made the mistake last year of maybe taking it too easy and we lost to teams that we should have beaten. That lost us momentum and it was difficult to get back on track.
"This year we want to do much better and win in the LV= Cup so that we can keep winning other matches too."
Ion has just returned from a two-month spell at the World Cup with Romania and says he is excited to be back amongst the Irish squad.
"It's great to be back with all my mates here and to be part of the team again," he commented. "To come back and play against Worcester was fantastic and the team is really on the front foot now."
The 28-year-old is the first Exiles player to return from the World Cup but will be followed shortly by the likes of Delon Armitage and Shontayne Hape.
The England duo are expected to face a tough battle to get into the side, with Ion admitting there is plenty of competition amongst the backs at the moment.
"There are a lot of very good players in the squad who are playing very well and it will be a challenge for those returning from the World Cup," he said.
"It's good for the squad to have the competition and I will be trying my best to get into the starting line-up."
This article appeared in Reading Chronicle 13 Oct 11