Preview: London Irish v Gloucester

Date published: September 7 2012

London Irish stalwart Declan Danaher returns to captain the side in Saturday's Premiership clash against Gloucester at Madejski Stadium.

London Irish stalwart Declan Danaher returns to captain the side in Saturday's Premiership clash against Gloucester at Madejski Stadium.

Danaher replaces Jamie Gibson in the back-row and will play alongside Ofisa Treviranus and Jon Fisher.

John Ryan, who is currently on loan from Munster, is a front-row replacement and England U20's star, Anthony Watson, returns from injury to be named on the bench.

“Gloucester have a strong squad with some great players and a very astute coach in Nigel Davies,” said London Irish Director of Rugby, Brian Smith.

“Like us they tasted defeat last weekend so they'll be looking to upset us tomorrow.”

Meanwhile Gloucester Director of Rugby Nigel Davies brings in five new faces and makes one positional change to his side.

It's Gloucester's first game on the road in the Aviva Premiership this season, and notable amongst the new faces is club captain Jim Hamilton who returns having missed out at home against Northampton last weekend with an ankle injury.

There is just one change in the back line as Henry Trinder comes in for Mike Tindall in the midfield whereas the pack is where the majority of the changes take place.

Shaun Knight makes his first Premiership start at tight head and Hamilton forms a new second row partnership alongside Will James.

Fresh from an impressive performance in the Aviva Premiership A League on Monday evening, Andy Hazell returns at openside flanker while Tom Savage moves from the second row to the blindside flank.

Irish got off to a losing start last weekend as they finished on the wrong end of a 40-3 scoreline against Saracens at the London Double Header but Davies isn't reading too much into that performance.

“It's really about focusing on us. We've looked at London Irish and their game last weekend and they won't be taking too much out of it,” said Davies.

“They're definitely going to bounce back and be stronger because they're at home. They'll be disappointed with last weekend and we can't read too much into it.

“It's more really a case, and it always has been anyway, about us looking at ourselves and making sure we get our game right. If we do that, then we'll progress.

“It's been a difficult squad to select. We've got a lot of players who are performing at a similar level. It's very competitive. But that's great because they'll all drive each other on.”

Form: London Irish were humbled by Saracens at Twickenham on Saturday but their most recent encounter at Madejski Stadium was in the final game of last season where they took on and easily accounted for today's visitors, Gloucester. Gloucester tripped up at home to Northampton in round one of the new Aviva Premiership Rugby season, and have now slipped to seven straight defeats in the competition – their worst run since season 1998/99. The last eleven Premiership fixtures between the two clubs have all been won by the home side on the day, whilst Gloucester have not been victorious at Madejski Stadium since 10 November 2006.

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The teams:

London Irish: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Topsy Ojo, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 11 Marland Yarde, 10 Steve Shingler, 9 Tomás O'Leary, 8 Jon Fisher, 7 Ofisa Treviranus, 6 Declan Danaher (c), 5 Bryn Evans, 4 George Skivington, 3 Leo Halavatau, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Max Lahiff.
Replacements: 16 Brian Blaney, 17 Halani Aulika, 18 John Ryan, 19 Kieran Low, 20 Alex Gray, 21 Anthony Watson, 22 Shane Geraghty, 23 Jack Moates.

Gloucester: 15 Jonny May, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Henry Trinder, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 James Simpson-Daniel, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Andy Hazell, 6 Tom Savage, 5 Jim Hamilton (c), 4 Will James, 3 Shaun Knight, 2 Darren Dawidiuk, 1 Nick Wood.
Replacements: 16 Huia Edmonds, 17 Dan Murphy, 18 Rupert Harden, 19 Sione Kalamafoni, 20 Akapusi Qera, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Mike Tindall, 23 Martyn Thomas.

Date: Saturday, September 8
Venue: Madejski Stadium
Kick-off: 15.00 BST (14.00 GMT)
Referee: Greg Garner