New London Welsh head coach Rowland Phillips says his players are determined not to be labelled the worst Premiership team in the competition's history.

The former Wales defence coach and dual code international stepped into the hotseat this week following the departure of Justin Burnell.

Welsh, who will be relegated next week should they lose to title-chasing Bath on March 29 at OXford's Kassam stadium, are winless in all competitions this season and only have one point in the top flight by virtue of a try scoring bonus point.

The club is threatening legal action with regards to the funding structure for newly promoted teams, which sees them receive roughly £2million less from Premiership coffers than those already established in the top flight.

They only secured promotion via the play-offs in June and they had just three months to piece together a squad capable of competing at the top level.

New Zealand scrum half Piri Weepu, signed last summer, has already jumped ship to Wasps this season ahead of a proposed move to Oyonnax in France next term.

While Tongan prop Taione Vea this week confirmed a two-year switch to Newcastle Falcons next year as players attempt to avoid a return to the Championship by whatever means necessary.

But, with the turmoil off the pitch not helping matters, Phillips is hoping his men can give supporters something to cheer by the end of the campaign.

“I am very proud to be leading the coaching of this great club," said Phillips, who scored 18 tries in 66 appearances as London Welsh number eight in the 1990s and won 10 caps for Wales.

"It’s been a very tough season in the Premiership trying to play with a squad built on an uneven financial playing field.

"But the boys are determined to rescue something from this season.”

Burnell led London Welsh in to the top flight via the Championship play-offs last term - his only full season in charge at the Old Deer Park-based club.

But, after 17 straight league defeats, the only surprise about his exit this week was that it had not come sooner.

Club chairman Bleddyn Phillips added: “As chairman, I would like to add my sincere thanks and very best wishes to Justin and his family for the future.

"The harsh reality is that the club has had a mountain to climb in terms of now well documented challenges on the financial and structural regime presently in place in Premiership rugby which any coach or club would, to put it mildly, find daunting.

“And we must not forget the tremendous success we achieved last season in winning again the Championship, against all odds, under his coaching leadership.”