12:31pm Thursday 5th June 2014
LONDON Welsh face a busy summer in the transfer market after hammering Bristol to earn a place in the Aviva Premiership, writes Chris Kirwan.
The Exiles won both legs of the Championship final for a 48-28 aggregate triumph that sees them back in the big time.
A host of Welsh's players have caught the eye – notably their tight five and destructive back row forward Carl Kirwan – but head coach Justin Burnell knows they need more strength in depth.
"We'll have to realistically look at 12 to 15 additional members for the squad and that doesn't mean all first choice," he told the BBC. "You've got to strengthen in those numbers to accommodate all competitions.
"We need to recruit obviously. It's pointless going up there just making the numbers up but we're also under no ridiculous illusion that we're going to do more than stay up. Our primary target is purely just that."
The Exiles have not been as busy in the transfer market as Bristol and have already been linked to West Country recruits Dwayne Peel and Anthony Perenise, who have clauses that enable them to head out on loan next season before returning ahead of the 2015 playoffs.
"We will be making some of our player announcements on Wednesday of next week," London Welsh chief executive Mike Stevens said.
"We have been planning for it for the whole season, so we know who we are going to sign, what we are looking for off the field as well as on it.
"The most important thing I am going to do first of all is put that budget for the Championship in the bin and work on the Premiership budget."
Failure to return to the top flight is a massive disappointment for big-spending Bristol, who have snapped up Ryan Jones and Matthew Morgan from the Ospreys along with star Samoa flanker Jack Lam, Worcester wing David Lemi and Leinster pair Jack O'Connell and Darren Hudson.
The deep pockets of billionaire owner Steve Lansown means they have no money fears but the scramble for promotion will be even more fierce next season given that Worcester have dropped down.
"It's disappointing for everyone that we won't be playing top-flight rugby next season – but that's the nature of the qualification process," said director of rugby Andy Robinson.
"With Worcester coming down, we've got to set our sights on our ability to beat Worcester."
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