Toby Booth has given his vision for the future of his London Irish team, hinting that he will aim for a smaller group of players for their campaign next season. With playing budgets for next season currently being set and focus already being at least partly switched to next season Booth knows where he sees the Exiles short term future.
Star winger Topsy Ojo signed a new contract with Irish this week and Booth will be looking to see more of his top players sign up over the next few weeks. He has commented that his squad will be smaller next year, “We currently have more players because it’s been a World Cup year.” The Exiles focus for next year he says will be “quality rather than quantity”.
The reason for this is perhaps the relatively small budget available to Irish along with the rest of the Premiership. Whilst wage budgets will increase next year as things stand the English clubs are in relative poverty to their Southern Hemisphere and French rivals. When Irish take on Racing Metro twice in a week this month the contrast will be ever visible. Racing have until recently been the highest spenders in France and have climbed from the second division to Heineken Cup and League challengers in a few short years, courtesy of huge financial backing.
The financial restraints placed on Irish are not holding Booth back. He is showing further ambition and he seems to be enjoying the challenge of “scrutinising the funds we have” and “using them efficiently” to ensure Irish remain a competitive force both domestically and on the European front.
Booth is tipped as a contender for the vacant England managers post and the way he has performed at Irish shows why. He is certainly capable of building a strong team and will no doubt have a clear view of which of his players have a place in his slim lined side for next season and who he will want to bring in from the outside.