BLAIR COWAN has been named London Irish’s first player of the month of the 2017/18 campaign, The Wokingham Paper can exclusively reveal.
Cowan, who recently penned a new deal with the club, has featured in every game so far in the Exiles Premiership return and has carried on his form from last season.
His reward for being named the Walton Jewellers player of the month is a Citizen watch.
The forward’s display on the opening day at Twickenham drew plenty of attention and he also switched position to fill in at number eight for the home clash with Northampton Saints.
And director of rugby Nick Kennedy, who along with his coaches select the player of the month, said Cowan was the clear candidate for the award.
“Blair was the stand-out for us,” Kennedy told The Wokingham Paper.
“For our player of the month we look at statistics like tackles made, carries made, line-outs won and passes.
“We discuss it as coaches and have a bit of a vote.
“We had a couple of injuries at number eight and as a seven Blair stepped across and put the team first and played out of position for us.
“Statistically for making the most tackles and in training, he’s been outstanding for us so far.”
And the Scotland international himself is relishing every minute back in the big time.
“It’s good to be back in the Premiership,” said Cowan.
“It was exciting to win the Championship last year, but to be back in the Prem is a whole next level so I’m really enjoying it.
“I’ve been working closely with the coaches and they know me as a player so that really helped me just to continue playing my own game and I’ve really bought into what they’re trying to do.”
As an international player with plenty of Premiership experience, Cowan was one of those fans may have feared would depart London Irish when they were relegated in 2016.
But the flanker says that was never really a consideration, even if it meant his international chances would suffer as a result.
“There was chit chat going around,” admitted Cowan.
“My agent was having a sniff at what was available but I pretty sharply said I was pretty happy to stay here.
“I was part of the team that got relegated so I wanted to make sure I was part of the team that gets them back promoted, where they belong and there was no real question if I was going to leave or not.
“The only question mark was around Scotland.
“At the time I had to take the knock and I was more than happy to sacrifice those sort of selections for the need of the club.”
Cowan, 31, joined London Irish in 2013 and by the end of his new contract, will have been with the Exiles for more than five years.
And the New Zealand-born forward wants to leave a legacy at London Irish.
“I think you get to a point in your career where you want to be a part of a club that when you’re finished and done, you’re on the walls here,” he said.
“Whether it’s your 100th cap or you’ve done something special for the club along the way, something I want to do is leave a bit of history of myself here that I can be proud of, look back on and that people will remember me at this club.”
After his impressive display against Harlequins on the opening day of the campaign, Exiles director of rugby Kennedy called on Scotland to recall Cowan to the international scene.
“I’d love to don the Scotland jersey again,” said Cowan.
“It’s one of the proudest moments of my career and if they asked I definitely would, but it’s not something I focus my game around.
“All I can do is perform to my best for the club and if they want me, they want me and if they don’t, they don’t.
“I suppose all I can keep doing is put consistent performances in then hopefully they keep an eye.”