YOUNG London Irish star Matt Williams has set his sights on making an impact in the Gallagher Premiership.

The 21-year-old made 12 appearances last season as Exiles returned to the top flight, and he now wants to continue his development.

He said: “For me, I want to improve as a player throughout this season and contribute as best I can to the team and our goal of being a competitive side in the Premiership.”

Williams will face tough competition for a first-team place with international stars like Australian Curtis Rona and World Cup-winning All Black Waisake Naholo having joined the ranks, but he hopes to learn from them.

He continued: “For myself and all the other young players around the club I think we will benefit from having the wealth of experience which is coming into the environment.

"As you’ve seen, there are world class players signing and to get the best out of this team, Declan (Kidney, director of rugby) has said we need a mix of youth and experience.

“I’m sure that the boys coming in will really challenge us and push our standards to be higher and that’s what everyone at the club really needs for us to push on.”

l LONDON Irish will begin their Gallagher Premiership campaign with a trip to Wasps on Sunday, October 20.

Their first game at Madejski Stadium comes the following week against Sale, before a tough trip to Premiership and European Cup champions Saracens.

Leicester are the visitors for week four before a two-week gap for European Challenge Cup action.

Exiles travel to Bristol on Sunday, December 1 before two more European games, and round out 2019 with a home game against Bath and a trip to Worcester.

They host Exeter on January 5, before the last two European pool games are followed by a trip to Northampton.

Irish visit Harlequins and host Gloucester in February, and then face Wasps (h), Sale (a), Bath (a) and Northampton in March.

Their final seven games are Leicester (a), Saracens (h), Gloucester (a), Harlequins (h), Worcester (h), Exeter (a) and Bristol, at home on Saturday, June 6.

London Irish will play four Premiership Cup games before the league starts, beginning on the weekend of September 20/21/22.