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Aviva Premiership
Jones welcomes baptism of fire
ESPN Staff
July 4, 2012
London Welsh celebrate winning the RFU Championship final, London Welsh v Cornish Pirates, RFU Championship final second leg, Kassam Stadium, Oxford, England, May 30, 2012
London Welsh have a tough start to life in the Premiership, with Leicester and Harlequins up in their first two matches © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Lyn Jones
Tournaments/Tours: Aviva Premiership

London Welsh head coach Lyn Jones is staying calm despite the phenomenally tough start his London Welsh team will face on their debut in the Aviva Premiership.

The Exiles will begin life at the Kassam Stadium with against last season's runners up Leicester Tigers on Sunday, September 2, then a week later they travel to the Twickenham Stoop to meet reigning champions Harlequins.

"We're delighted to draw Leicester and Harlequins, they were by far the best two teams in England last year, and they're arguably in the top half a dozen sides in Europe," Jones said. "The challenge we face against Leicester and Harlequins is as big as London Welsh has ever faced. "We're excited about the new challenge and we're fully aware of how difficult it's going to be."

After winning their appeal to be allowed to go up to the Premiership on June 30, Jones has not been left much time to recruit new players to his squad, though London Welsh's directors have promised him a 'war-chest' to reinforce his side.

The former-Ospreys coach has previously said that he is happy to give the players who helped the Exiles win promotion the chance to prove themselves in the Premiership, even though he is well aware of the step up in level of play.

"The quality of player is higher and more consistent," he said. "Physical size could be an issue and our boys are very much aware that they've got to get bigger, and they've been working at it during the summer.

"There's not much room to rest players. It's quite an attritional league; it's very physical and it's very tough. We understand the size of the challenge, our boys will be playing against world class players and it's going to be a great experience for them. We've really got to learn from week to week and really pick our game up as we grow."

One side that Jones is drawing strength from is Exeter. After they won promotion to the top flight in 2010 many pundits were quick to predict that they would quickly return to the Championship. Instead the consolidated their position in the first season, then finished fifth and qualified for the Heineken Cup in their second.

"The Exeter model is fantastic and we measured ourselves results wise against Worcester, when they were in the Championship. Our scores and results were on par with them," Jones said. "It's about studying them [Exeter] and understanding why they've done so well. We're pretty confident that we can go up and stay up."

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