The words 'horse' and 'bolted' might spring to mind, but London Welsh have decided to appoint a defence coach for their seemingly doomed Premiership campaign.

Former Wales and Ospreys defensive guru Rowland Phillips has put pen to paper on a deal to take on what could either be seen as the hardest or easiest job in top flight rugby.

The exiles are currently rock bottom of every competition they have entered this term after Saturday's 47-7 LV= Cup defeat at Bath.

Welsh are conceding an average of 44 points per game in all competitions since earning promotion from the Championship and have let the opposition score more than 50 against them on four occasions so far.

It does not take a genius to work out where the club's problems lie, but it has taken head coach Justin Burnell nine games to recruit a specialist to toughen up his side's tackling.

Phillips, a former number eight, comes with pedigree and spent two seasons as captain at Old Deer Park during his playing days in the 1990s.

The defensive benhcmark is currently so low for the exiles, the 49-year-old could argue any improvement will be deemed a success.

But the way things are looking for a Welsh squad that welcomed 25 new faces in the off season, even a small improvement may soon be beyond them.

The good thing is assistant coach Ollie Smith insists his side still prepare for each match with the intention of winning rather than simply to make the scoreline respectable.

But even he admits his men must start competing for more than just fleeting moments in order to turn their season around.

“We don’t go out thinking let’s try not to concede this amount or damage limitation," he said after Saturday's defeat.

"We very much go out each week with the confidence that if we can do some of the things we’ve worked on and we’ve shown in parts of games over the course of a 60-70 minute performance then we’re going to be there or thereabouts come the end.

“Unfortunately, ten minutes in the second half isn’t good enough – there’s another 70 minutes in the game. That’s the realism of it. So for us as a coaching team and as a playing group it’s working together to try and get that ten to 20, 30, 40.

“Suddenly if we’re doing it for 60-70 minutes you’re hoping the scoreline is far closer or in your favour, and it’s a very different story. When Bath come out at half-time 30 points up there’s no pressure on them, the game’s pretty much won barring a complete disaster.

“For us it’s getting to that 60-70 minute moment of the game and still being in the game, and at the moment we’re not doing that well enough.”

And Smith's new colleague Phillips insists he is relishing the prospect of turning the club's fortunes around before it is too late.

“The Premiership is a huge challenge, but the challenge makes it even more exciting. We’ve clearly identified that the defence needs to be improved and that’s going to be my job," he added.

“After two seasons with Aironi in the Pro 12 it’s great to be stepping back up into a full-time professional rugby environment.

“I know Justin very well and I’ve got a lot of respect for him and I’m really looking forward to it.

“As a player I had two great seasons at London Welsh and it’s great to be coming back to the club.

"My first season we were in Division One and we got promoted alongside Worcester, so I’ve got a good strong connection to the club and I have very fond memories.”

Welsh host Gloucester in the LV= Cup on Sunday.