By Katie Field
Who is the man of the moment?
Tom James, the 26-year-old Exeter Chiefs wing who will be attempting to carve up the London Irish defence in an Aviva Premiership clash at the Madejski Stadium in Reading on Saturday, 21 September (kick-off 3pm).
Why is he in the spotlight?
The Chiefs recruited James from the Cardiff Blues in the summer and he made himself right at home at Sandy Park last weekend, scoring two tries on his competitive home debut against London Wasps, helping Exeter to a 30-26 win. James has ten Wales caps, but the last of those was won in November 2010 and he missed a chunk of rugby last season due to injury, managing just nine RaboDirect Pro 12 matches and two outings in a miserable Heineken Cup campaign for the Blues.
A loss of form and fitness saw move was best for both parties and although the Chiefs boss Rob Baxter didn’t consider him a nailed-on starter in the run-up to the season, partly because he was still returning to full fitness after his lay-off, James made his mark with his try double against Wasps.
“TJ is looking better and better all the time,” says Baxter. “We will see more quality from him. His second try was fantastic. He spotted an opening and used a combination of pace and power to score.”
This weekend James goes head to head with another in-form wing, Marland Yarde, who has crossed for three tries in London Irish’s first two Premiership games and is brimming with confidence after making his England debut on the summer tour. It should be an intriguing clash.
What’s James got to say about it?
“Since I arrived at Exeter, all I’ve wanted to do is play rugby and score some tries and I was lucky enough to get two [against Wasps]. I’m really enjoying it here, the pattern suit me and I am enjoying my rugby again.
“It was a fresh challenge, with new coaches, and it’s all working for me. Just from the first game you could see it was a different competition (from the Pro 12), much tougher, and a different style of game.”
Will he be whooping or weeping this weekend?
Exeter and Irish both won last weekend, after losing their opening games, so they have their tails up and are in the try-scoring habit, with Exeter scoring seven in their first two matches and Irish six. The Madejski is a tough place to go but the Chiefs won there 27-23 last season and should edge it again this time.
Watch James and Exeter Chiefs take on London Irish at the Madejski Stadium on Saturday, 21 September, kick-off 3pm.