- Exiles club capatin set for 190th London Welsh appearance
- "I feel really privileged to be playing at such a great club" – Corker
Photo: Martin John
Saturday evening's visit of the Cornish Pirates to the Kassam Stadium is sure to bring back some fond memories for London Welsh club captain Matt Corker.
If selected, Saturday will be Corker's 190th appearance in a London Welsh jersey and while there have been many highs over the past six years, May 30, 2012, at the Kassam, when the Exiles clinched the Championship title against the Pirates, is a day that stands out above all others.
"It was a fantastic win and a fantastic night," he said. "It ended up in an amazing crescendo in winning the final, and the best thing for us as a team was we definitely deserved it. We played really well."
The visit of the Pirates is the start of a big few weekends for the Exiles, with a trip to Leeds Carngie to follow before Bristol come to the Kassam.
"We've had some good tests leading up to this point, but these three teams are going to be there or thereabouts come the end of the season. In a couple of weeks we'll know where we really are," he added.
"At the moment we're top of the table and can be very pleased with ourselves.”
First up, though, it's the Pirates and Welsh go into the game leading the way in the Greene King IPA Championship, but on the back of two consecutive defeats in the B&I Cup, to London Scottish and Pontypridd. Just three points separate them from the Pirates in the table.
In contrast, the Pirates head to the Kassam buoyed by two comprehensive victories in the Cup, but Corker is confident that Welsh can rediscover the form that brought them four wins from their opening four Championship games.
"Winning is obviously a habit and you never play to lose, but we're definitely drawing a line under it and moving forward. The league is our focus and we'll come with full intensity at the weekend,” he explained.
"We're aware that we haven't had a great couple of weeks and we know the Pirates are going to be mad keen coming up here. They're a good team and they've been going well. They're a physical side and they're going to be a real test for us.
"They've got some really big forwards and some great backs as well - their number nine Gavin Cattle has been down there a long time. They know how to play."
Saturday will be the Exiles' third outing at the Kassam this season – their previous home games bringing a draw with the Scarlets and a win over Plymouth Albion – and Corker would like to see Welsh turn the ground into a fortress.
"If we can build our home venue into a fortress it's only going to be better for us and that enthusiasm to play there can really come out in our style of play. We're really looking forward to being back there," he said.
"There isn't a player in the squad who isn't glad we're playing at the Kassam – it's a fantastic stadium."
As for his fast approaching 200th appearance milestone, the 30-year-old second row has no intention of stopping there.
"200, 300, let's see how many we can get. I had my 150th league appearance the other week at Rotherham and that was fantastic – it was a real personal highlight," he said.
"I don't really know where those 150 league games have gone if I'm honest – it seems to have gone in the blink of an eye.
"I feel really privileged to be playing at such a great club and we've got such a great squad this year, and I've played with some great guys and some amazing coaches as well. I love being at London Welsh, it's fantastic and the fans have always been amazing to me."