SEBASTIAN DE CHAVES has called on London Irish to make Madejski Stadium a fortress again ahead of the club’s first home game of the campaign.
Despite being a month into season, the Exiles are yet to return to the Mad Stad for the first time since clinching promotion in May having played their other ‘home’ fixture at Twickenham.
Following that victory, it has been tough for Nick Kennedy’s men with Friday night’s 36-7 loss at Sale Sharks following the 37-7 reverse at Exeter Chiefs the previous week.
And De Chaves, who has started every game so far, cannot wait to get back on familiar turf.
“I was speaking to some of the boys the other day and it feels like it’s been ages since we’ve been at home,” he told The Wokingham Paper.
“We’ve had so many amazing memories there last year.
“The Madejski crowd is always good. We can’t wait for them to come in numbers and make it a little bit of a fortress this year.
“I’m really looking forward to being back at the Mad Stad and getting a win hopefully.”
De Chaves has again been named in the Exiles side for Sunday’s clash with the Saints, but there are changes elsewhere with Napolioni Nalaga handed a first Irish start while Johnny Williams returns at centre.
LONDON IRISH XV: Bell, Lewington, Tikoirotuma, Williams, Nalaga, Marshall, McKibbin, Franks (c), Porecki, Du Plessis, van der Merwe, De Chaves, McNally, Gilsenan, Cowan.
Reps: Paice, Elrington, Hoskins, Paulo, Schatz, Steele, Tonks, Ojo.
Aside from a second half penalty try, it was another forgettable day on the road at Sale for Irish, who ended with 14 men after Blair Cowan was red carded for an elbow.
But De Chaves says Irish know how they can improve.
“We’ve learnt the hard way,” he admitted. “The Premiership is so competitive. In this league you just can’t make as many errors as we have in the last two weeks and expect to win.
“I still think we have such a good plan in place, a plan that will hurt a lot of teams in this league.
“We just have to control what we can control and do what we do and then it’ll be fine. But at the moment it’s just error count really. But we’ve looked at it, we know the problems and we’ll sort it out for this week.”
He added: “I personally think we reacted really well to the red card.
“We were a man down and then also Ofisa (Treviranus) got an HIA (head injury assessment) so I think in the pack we were an eight and a seven down.
“We still went about our process, we defended quite a few five-metre mauls and I think we actually stepped up very well there.
“There’s always positives to take out of games and I think that was definitely one of them.”
With those two defeats now firmly behind them, focus switches to this Sunday’s clash with Northampton, a side who have won their last two matches.
And De Chaves has not been surprised from the way they’ve responded to their 55-24 opening day demolition against Saracens.
“You look at Northampton and they’re a quality side,” said the South African.
“I think that first round they just got hit a bit cold and Sarries were really good on the day.
“But they bounced back and you just look at them as a side and they’ve got threats all over the park. They are genuinely a top class team.”
He continued: “The Premiership is the most competitive league in the world, so you’re never going to get an easy week. We’re going to have to be at our best to compete with them and do what we do.
“Northampton are a class outfit, but we’re just going to need to worry about our job and get those errors down.”
Victory this week would lift newly-promoted Irish back up into mid-table after four games. However, De Chaves explains that results are not at the front of everybody’s minds just yet.
“I think two wins out of four would be a great start,” said the 26-year-old.
“You can’t really focus on the wins and you can’t really focus on the points.
“You’ve first got to focus on the performance. That’s one thing we’ve spoken about.
“We just need to get the performance right and everything else will fall into place.”