TECHNICAL director Brendan Venter believes the big-match experience of London Irish’s players will prove crucial as they seek an immediate return to to Aviva Premiership.

Nick Kennedy’s men look all but certain to reach the final after destroying Doncaster Knights 35-3 at Castle Park on Sunday, and 1995 World Cup-winner Venter believes the experience of having multiple internationals is critical at this stage of the season.

The South African said: “The pressure of the play-offs isn’t the elephant in the room, it’s been discussed in the team meetings and we’ve got players in the squad who have played huge matches before.

“The reality is, preparation is your ally and you should only have fear if you’re not well prepared. Our preparation has been superb all season and I’m confident it will pay off in the play-offs.

“Listening to Nick and his coaches this week, I realise how hard they work every day and now the players must go out onto the pitch and do their job. Begging and praying for a result without a proper process is futile."

Venter was also keen to pay tribute to the outstanding job done by young director of rugby Kennedy, who took over last summer and saw his side win 19 of their regular-season Greene King IPA Championship matches.

He commented: “Nick has done a tremendous job already this season.

“The club was on a real low when I came in last year and although the players were very demoralised, Nick has done a fantastic job in picking them up.

“We have a confident, healthy squad who are playing well at the moment and this is where we wanted to be at this stage of the campaign.”