Preview: London Irish v Worcester

Date published: January 3 2014

London Irish have recalled experienced winger Sailosi Tagicakibau to the starting line-up against Worcester Warriors.

London Irish have recalled experienced winger Sailosi Tagicakibau to the starting line-up against Worcester Warriors.

The Samoa winger joins Topsy Ojo and James O'Connor in the back three with Eamonn Sheridan and Fergus Mulchrone, who were both on the score sheet last weekend, continuing in the centre.

Irish also welcome back Shane Geraghty to the starting line-up and he will partner Tomás O'Leary at half back.

John Yapp, Mike Mayhew and Leo Halavatau will make up a new front row with Nic Rouse joining Captain, George Skivington in the second row.

Kieran Low, Blair Cowan and Ofisa Treviranus make up the back row.

“We have recalled some experienced players to the squad for tomorrow's match,” said Exiles boss Brian Smith.

“We have prepared well in the week and know it will be a difficult match against Worcester, but we're confident we can get the job done at home in front of our fantastic supporters.”

Meanwhile, Paul Warwick has been named at fly-half for the Warriors' trip to Reading.

The Australian is set for his first league start in over two months as Director of Rugby Dean Ryan makes just two changes to the side which hosted Saracens last weekend.

Centre Ravai Fatiaki will partner Alex Grove in midfield in a backline which also sees the inclusion of Chris Pennell, Josh Draunniu and Jeremy Su'a.

After dominating much of the second-half during last week's clash with the league leaders, the forward pack remains unchanged.

Ofa Fainga'anuku, Chris Brooker and Rob O'Donnell line up in the front row, while James Percival and Mariano Galarza slot in at second row.

In the back row, Richard de Carpentier, Sam Betty and Leonardo Senatore all keep their places.

Warriors are also boosted by the return of Jonny Arr, Josh Matavesi and Ed Shervington, who are named amongst the replacements.

“In the last five or six games we have been consistently competitive against significant opposition,” said Ryan.

“Hopefully we can get the outcome we all desire and then other teams will have to learn how to cope under pressure.

“We're missing one or two players but we have others back so it's about getting the continuity of people.

“But if we do lose people, we go to the next one and we move on. And that's been a radical shift to the way this group have seen seasons before.”

Form: London Irish have won only one of their last ten matches in all tournaments: 24-13 over Stade Fran̤ais in the European Challenge Cup on December 8. The Exiles have tallied just four league points from their last six Premiership Rugby matches, only Worcester have a poorer return. Worcester Warriors have become only the third side in the history of the Premiership to reach the halfway stage without gaining a victory Рthe others were Bedford in 1999/2000, and Rotherham in 2003/04. The Warriors only Premiership win in their last 22 games was 29-23 at home to Wasps on March 1. London Irish have won six of their last seven clashes with Worcester in all competitions including a 20-18 victory at Sixways in the Premiership on September 14.
The teams:

London Irish: 15 James O'Connor, 14 Topsy Ojo, 13 Fergus Mulchrone, 12 Eamonn Sheridan, 11 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 10 Shane Geraghty, 9 Tomás O'Leary, 8 Ofisa Treviranus, 7 Blair Cowan, 6 Kieran Low, 5 Nic Rouse, 4 George Skivington, 3 Leo Halavatau, 2 Mike Mayhew, 1 John Yapp.
Replacements: 16 Jimmy Stevens, 17 Matt Parr, 18 Jamie Hagan, 19 Jebb Sinclair, 20 Declan Danaher, 21 Alex Lewington, 22 Ian Humphreys, 23 Ed Hoadley.

Worcester: 15 Chris Pennell (c), 14 James Stephenson, 13 Alex Grove, 12 Ravai Fatiaki 11 Josh Drauniniu, 10 Paul Warwick, 9 Jeremy Su'a, 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Sam Betty, 6 Richard de Carpentier, 5 Mariano Galarza, 4 James Percival, 3 Rob O'Donnell, 2 Chris Brooker, 1 Ofa Fainga'anuku.
Replacements: 16 Ed Shervington, 17 George Porter, 18 John Andress, 19 Chris Jones, 20 Semisi Taulava, 21 Jonny Arr, 22 Ignacio Mieres, 23 Josh Matavesi.

Date: Saturday, January 4
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Venue: Madejski Stadium
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant referees: Roy Maybank, Andrew Pearce
Television match official: Sean Davey