London Welsh club captain Matt Corker is set to join a very exclusive club indeed at Sardis Road on Saturday, as he makes his 200th appearance for the Exiles.
The London Welsh Club captain and second row has been named among the replacements for Welsh’s final pre-season friendly against Pontypridd on Saturday (KO 2:30pm) before the Exiles open their Aviva Premiership campaign against Exeter Chiefs at the Kassam Stadium on Sunday 7th September.
The transition to full-time professional, Championship heartache and success, Premiership highs and lows, and June’s joyous scenes at the Memorial Stadium, Corker has been there through it all at London Welsh.
Now in his eighth season at the Club, much water has passed under the bridge since Corker made the journey twice weekly from Wasps’ Twyford Avenue training ground to Old Deer Park to join in training at London Welsh during the 2007/08 season.
“It’s fantastic; to have played so many games for London Welsh over such an exciting time in the Club’s history is a really proud achievement for me,” said Corker. “I’m really excited about the season ahead and racking up as many more appearances as I can.”
His debut would come against Northampton Saints in September 2007 at Franklin’s Gardens in National League One during a season long loan from Wasps that would become permanent the following summer.
“It was quite a funny experience going back to Adams Park last weekend for our friendly, it really did feel like a lifetime ago that I was there,” he said.
“To have such a long period of stability at London Welsh has been fantastic for my rugby development. I haven’t felt the need to move, I feel like I’ve been able to develop as a rugby player and so well supported by all of the coaches I’ve been lucky to be coached by, and everyone off the field has always been fantastic. The board and Kelvin [Bryon] have always been amazing to me and the London Welsh supporters have been fantastic.”
Corker speaks with a passion about getting an unexpected second crack at the Aviva Premiership and his love for playing for Welsh, fully appreciative of the fact that he can do so at all.
Diagnosed with Atrial fibrillation in 2013, a heart condition which causes an irregular and often abnormally fast heart rate, he was forced to sit out five months of last season and his rugby future thrown in to doubt.
“Last year when I had my little mid-season holiday people really showed me how they felt and that was really appreciated,” he said.
“I was very excited the last time we were promoted but this time I’m very focused on the job in hand. I feel it’s an opportunity for us with our preparation and the squad that we’ve built to cement our place in the top flight.
“That’s what we’re all very focused on and there’s no reason why we can’t do it. It’s going to be a really exciting year.”
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