FORWARDS coach George Skivington believes a bunch of London Irish youngsters will ultimately benefit from a heavy defeat at Gloucester at the weekend.

A youthful Exiles were soundly beaten 47-7 at Kingsholm by a Gloucester side containing former All Blacks and British & Irish Lions stars in the Anglo Welsh Cup on Saturday.

But Skivington is confident the experience will stand a number of the club’s brightest prospects in good stead for the future.

Former Wellington College pupil and England U18s international Josh Basham made his debut in this season’s competition in the back row.

He was joined by 19-year-old Jack Cooke at second row and 20-year-old former Reading Abbey winger Ben Loader, brother of Royals starlet Danny.

In addition, teenager Rory Brand – another ex-Wellington College youngster – started at scrum half.

And while Exiles failed to keep up with a strong Gloucester outfit on the scoreboard, Skivington felt there were plenty of positives to take.

“From the pack point of view, we had two lads in there straight out of school, one on the wing and one at 9 who’s one year of being a pro,” he declared.

“We bled quite a few lads in that game against a strong Gloucester side and I thought for the most part of the game they got stuck in. Their heads never went down.

“They were outmuscled a bit at the scrum and there were a couple of bits and pieces you’d expect, but to be honest with you I’m really positive.”

Reading Chronicle:

Ben Loader, left, and Rory Brand both started for London Irish against Gloucester.

He added: “Young Jack Cooke and Josh Basham, who did the full stint, really got stuck in. They’re very early in their journeys as rugby players and played a Premiership team.

“They’ll take some good lessons. Now they know the physicality level that they’ve got to get to and how hard they’ve got to work.

“It was a great opportunity. Some of those guys thought that they wouldn’t play rugby for us this year and they get to play at Kingsholm against some All Blacks and British & Irish Lions, guys they’ve watched on TV and look up to. They get to feel where they are in the pecking order of rugby.”

London Irish return to Aviva Premiership action this Sunday with a home fixture against Bath at Madejski Stadium (3pm ko).

And Skivington is relishing the challenge, saying: “Every week is exciting for us. We’ve got Bath then Wasps then we’re back at Gloucester.

“We know the Bath coaches pretty well. We’ve had a couple of training sessions with them and it’s obviously a challenge but we go into every week feeling really positive.”

Meanwhile, London Irish will this weekend donate £4 from the sale of each adult match ticket and £2 from concessions to the Movember Foundation in support of first-team hooker, Darren Dawidiuk who is receiving treatment for testicular cancer.

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