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Irish's Homer ready for battle of the backs

Published: 1 Mar 2012 12:300 comments

TOM Homer admits he has his work cut out to win back his place in the London Irish first team.

Tom Homer in action against Gloucester. Pic by David M Moore.

Homer, 21, has been one of Exiles' standout performers this season, and currently tops the Premiership scoring charts with an impressive haul of 197 points.

Such has been his potency from the kicking tee especially that head coach Toby Booth has done his best to fit him in whatever side he puts out, shuffling him amongst the back row and even in at number six on one occasion.

But now, with Delon Armitage, Saliosi Tagicakibau and Topsy Ojo all fit, Booth faces a bigger selection headache than before, leading him to name Homer as a replacement for the loss to Northampton Saints on Sunday.

And even the 21-year-old admits that displacing any of the in-form trio will be difficult, but he is determined to win back a starting spot.

"I want to be involved every week," he told the News. "With nearly everyone back from injury and the likes of Losi, Delon and Topsy in the back field, it will difficult. You saw on Sunday how good Losi was and he is going to be nearly impossible to replace, but I have to try and bounce back.

"To have everyone back and match fit is great and it is up to me now to get back into the starting XV. Perhaps I wasn't playing my best in the last few games, and with the strong players that we have available it is always difficult to hold on to your place, but I want to do the best I can."

With Armitage tipped to leave for Toulon in the summer, Homer could have the opportunity to cement a spot as Exiles' starting full-back, his favoured position.

"Of all the positions I would prefer to start at 15," he commented. "I've given anywhere a good go but 15 is where I like to play."

Asked whether he could even step in to replace the departing Dan Bowden next season, Homer commented: "To fill his boots would be very difficult. He is a hugely talented player who I have tried to learn as much as possible from while he has been here and he will be a big loss to us this summer."

Both Bowden and Homer could be key for Exiles in the coming months as they face an uphill task to close a 10-point gap on fourth-placed Leicester Tigers in the Premiership.

Standing in their way this Saturday are local rivals London Wasps (3pm ko), who sit second from bottom in the table but lost by just four points at the Madejski earlier in the season.

"It's a huge game at Wasps, a big chance for us to get back to winning ways," said Homer. "But Wasps is always a tough place to go. We just need to make sure we can put in a similar performance to the one against Saints."

"We played extremely positively but unfortunately we couldn't take anything from the match and that was disappointing. But I think it was a much improved performance from Newcastle, it was much better all over the pitch."

The clash with Wasps is made all the more significant as Exiles go on a two-week break prior to the encounter.

When they return on March 25 they face a tough home encounter against Leicester and Homer admits it would be good to go into the break on a positive note.

"We have a short break coming up so to go into that on the back of a victory would be nice," he commented.

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