LONDON Irish flanker Conor Gilsenan believes London Irish have made some of the best signings in the club's history as they prepare to return to the Gallagher Premiership.

British & Irish Lion Sean O'Brien, Australian quarter Nick Phipps Sekope Kepu, Adam Coleman and Curtis Rona, Zew Zealand World Cup-winner Waisake Naholo and Irish fly-half Paddy Jackson are among the big names recruited for the new season.

And Gilsenan – who has made 66 appearances for Exiles since joining in 2014 – gushed: “We’ve made some amazing signings, probably higher profile individuals and calibre players than we ever have before so naturally that’s very exciting. We want to be playing in the top league and against the best teams.”

Gilsenan was part of the Irish side which was promoted straight back to the top flight after winning the Greene King IPA Championship last term, and reflecting on that, he revealed: “I enjoyed the day we beat Ealing last season to lift the league trophy. I missed out on the final last time we got promoted with an injury so it was nice to take the field and lift some silverware.”

“I’ve had some pretty tough times in the Premiership, but I’m pretty excited for what the future holds.”

With pre-season in full flow, Gilsenan already has his eyes ahead of some big moments ahead, concluding: “Pre-season is a tough time of the year for a professional rugby player, but it’s also a good time as you tend not to have too many niggles, you’re making progress all the time.”

“The St Patrick’s Day game is always special, every time I’ve played in it, it’s always been a pretty great day for the club. All these days are exciting but they’re only nice when you’re winning so we have to keep grafting.

"As a team the number one thing is to be competitive, I guess number one goal is to stay in the Premiership and be as competitive as possible.”