SEBASTIAN DE Chaves hailed London Irish's Greene King IPA Championship play-off final victory as the best moment of his career, writes Richard Ashton.

The South African lock, who joined Exiles from Leicester Tigers last summer, has played a vital role in the success of Nick Kennedy's side, culminating in the 84-66 aggregate victory.

And he told the Chronicle: "It’s number one, the first bit of silverware I’ve won. I’ve been in a few finals, but this is definitely up there and to do it with the group of boys I’ve done it with is really special."

The 26-year-old admitted there was pressure on his side ahead of their 55-48 second-leg win, but a fast start to both halves had proved crucial.

He said: "Going into the game with an 11-point lead, it was kind of a funny one because 11 points is very good, but a quick try in the first minute (for them) would have meant it was chopped down massively.

"That first score just put us past two converted scores, and while we didn’t take our foot off the pedal, it does ease the pressure of everything.

"At half time we were conscious they were going to come out with a lot of energy, a lot of passion, and we kept on speaking about that.

"We’ve trained incredibly hard and we back our fitness, so we wanted to come out and not end the game in that first 10 minutes, but set out a real marker and really get into them and see if they could stay with us if it went to the last 10 or 15 minutes."

Having secured a return to the Aviva Premiership at the first time of asking, De Chaves can not wait for next season.

He admitted: "Other teams have gone up and stayed and others have gone up and come back down.

"I think the first half of the season is massive. What you do there is not do-or-die, but it does help you a lot.

"With everything else outside the team, the media, the attention, I think if we go up and lose our first three games , people will be saying ‘they’ll go straight back down, they can’t handle it’. But if we win our first two games, then ‘they’ll definitely stay up’."

He continued: "As a team we can only control what we can control and that’s coming in on the first day of pre-season, training as hard as we can, being as good as we can, as prepared as we can.

"The Premiership is so competitive you can play your best game and still get beat, that’s just the nature of the competition.

"What we want to do is create a great game and a great structure that we’re comfortable in and just go forward knowing exactly what we’re doing. We want to take it head on."