Pakistan international loving life at Ipswich Rugby Club

Arsalan Zahid

Arsalan Zahid - Credit: Archant

Ipswich’s Pakistan rugby star Arsalan Zahid is targeting promotion to London 1 with Johnny Breedt’s team, and an extended stay at his new club.

Captain of the Asian rugby minnows, the 29-year-old came to England just over two months ago and has since played three games for the London 2 leaders, scoring a try on his home debut, the 31-5 victory against Stowmarket.

Zahid is a popular figure in a buoyant but focused dressing room – the players and management in it, determined to win automatic promotion and pip second-placed Saffron Walden, who are eight points worse off with a game in hand, to the league title.

That would be mission accomplished for Zahid, nicknamed “Alex”, who has initially signed until the end of the season, but such is his desire for success, that the lock would like to remain at Humber Doucy Lane and further his English rugby odyssey.

“I have settled in well here and I would be keen to have more seasons,” said Zahid.

“That all depends on how Ipswich feel, but I am proud to be playing in England and I am sure, as a team, we can make it to London 1 North.”

Ipswich have only lost on two occasions this season and having fulfilled their fixtures against second-placed Saffron (one victory, one defeat), look well set to take their game to the next level.

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Should promotion be achieved it would be well-deserved, according to Zahid who is brimming with praise for the club.

“Everyone is very nice and the support we get is amazing,” Zahid added.

“It feels like I am part of a big family, the way everyone supports each other and I enjoy getting involved in the dressing room banter.

“All the players are proving to be very good team-mates and it’s been like that since day one, although I suppose I had to play my first game and prove myself and make things a bit easier.

“It was nice to score in my first-ever home game, it was a very good feeling. I have scored against other teams but this meant a lot.

“I then got sin-binned in the same match.

“The response I got was amazing and the people on the sideline were coming up and talking to me and telling me how I had ‘taken one for the team’!”

The team are scheduled to host third-placed Chelmsford tomorrow, weather permitting, and will be looking to gain revenge for a 28-19 defeat earlier in the season.

Zahid says the players are determined not to let their standards drop and will do everything they can to win promotion.

Their season finishes away to Holt, on April 12.

“Everyone is very confident,” insisted Zahid.

“The coaching team have a very good eye for rugby, are very technical and know how to get the best out of the team.

“We will not compromise our performance against anyone and we are determined to finish first.

“It’s great to be part of a winning team and it would be lovely to be part of promotion to London One North.”

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