The surroundings may not have changed too much, but the faces certainly have for Adam Kwasnicki, who is back at London Welsh for a second spell, writes Damian Dolan.
Just kitmen Pete Lowe and Terwyn Williams remain from the hooker’s first Old Deer Park stint, before he departed for Barking and then London Scottish – Welsh’s Championship opponents at the Athletic Ground on Saturday.
Kwasnicki made his London Welsh debut off the bench in a 71-8 victory over Canterbury in the Powergen National Trophy in November 2005, and went on to make 33 first-team appearances for the club, scoring three tries, between 2005 and 2009.
“It’s great to be back; I really enjoyed playing at London Welsh. Old Deer Park is a special venue and there’s a real family feel to the club, which I really like,” said Kwasnicki. who switched from Scottish in the summer.
“But it’s quite a long time ago since I played here and it’s a completely new set of players. It’s like joining a new club.
“I’ve got fond memories of my time here and when I knew London Welsh were interested in signing me it was an easy decision to make.
“It’s good to have a new challenge. I looked at the team London Welsh were putting together and it’s a fantastic playing squad, and that really appealed.”
London Welsh saw a winding up order dismissed by the High Court on Monday, days after opening the new Championship campaign with a 33-32 defeat at Rotherham Titans.
The brief hearing in London revealed an undisclosed amount of money owed to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs had been paid by the Exiles – paving the way for a full takeover by a California-based investment group, subject to RFU approval.
Kwasnicki started last weekend’s painful defeat at Rotherham Titans and he admitted it came as a harsh but valuable lesson for his new club.
“We were all very frustrated by the result. We put in a good shift and a good performance for 65 minutes, and put ourselves in a position where we should have won, but the game is 80 minutes and we need to keep our performance levels high for the whole game to win matches in the Championship,” he said.
“Ultimately we’re judged on the league table at the end of the season and it doesn’t say that we should’ve won this game or that game – it deals in facts. The fact is we lost a game which we shouldn’t have, and we’re all very eager to put that right on Saturday.”
A heart-breaking loss for Welsh, but one from which they can still take a host of positives into Saturday’s exiles derby against his former club London Scottish.
“The way our backs worked the ball into the wide spaces was excellent and our set-piece went pretty well, particularly the scrum. We took apart a pretty big and heavy Rotherham pack, and that was definitely a huge positive,” he said.
“But are gave away some cheap easy points and that’s something we’ve talked about this week and worked on. If opposition sides score points against us we’ve got to make sure that they’ve been made to work really hard for them.”
Like Welsh, Scottish suffered late heartache in their Championship opener at Nottingham – the Green and Whites leaving it late to secure a 25-22 victory.
While both sides will be eager to register a first victory of the season on Saturday, Welsh have added motivation having been edged out twice at the death by Scottish last season.
Kwasnicki was part of those late Scottish victories, but will taste the Welsh-Scottish derby for the first time from the London Welsh side on Saturday.
“I’m looking forward to going back to Scottish - it’s a great club and I had a really good time when I was there. But on Saturday I really want to perform well on that pitch for my new club London Welsh, and will be out to get the win,” he said.
“It’s a fixture that certainly has an extra bit of spice to it, with the clubs both being Exiles and just a few hundred metres apart. It’s a good rivalry and there have been some really good close games between the sides in recent years, and Saturday should be no different."