England prop Alex Corbisiero will make his first start of the season for London Irish in Sunday's LV=Cup opener against Sale.
England prop Alex Corbisiero will make his first start of the season for London Irish in Sunday's LV=Cup opener against Sale at the Madejski Stadium.
Corbisiero returns to action after recovering from a knee injury sustained whilst on international duty with England in South Africa.
He is part of London Irish boss Brian Smith's strongest available side.
We will be picking the strongest side possible for Sunday. We are going into the LV= Cup with the intent to go as far as we can.
“Regardless of whether it's the Aviva Premiership, JP Morgan Sevens, the Amlin Challenge Cup or the LV=Cup… we want to win trophies.
“Consequently we'll be selecting very strong teams to play in every competitive match this season. There is risk associated with this strategy but we are trying to build a winning culture so there is method in the madness.”
Irish started the season in positive fashion by lifting the JP Morgan Asset Management Premiership Rugby Sevens trophy in the summer and won their opening two Amlin Cup pool matches by big margins after fielding strong sides.
“We think the LV= Cup is a good competition,” added Smith.
“There is a trophy at stake and we want to be contenders. We won't be using this weekend as an exercise to rotate the squad.”
Smith is delighted to Corbisiero back as well as Shane Geraghty who will also start his first match of the season for the club since his return in the summer.
Geraghty has made five appearances so far this season, all of which have been from the bench.
“It is great to have Alex back and available,” he said. He is an outstanding player and he has been itching to get back for a while now.
“Shane made a successful comeback for us against Sale on Friday night, which was one of the positives to come out of the game.”
London Irish went down 21 points to 9 against Sale Sharks in the Aviva Premiership on Friday evening and Sunday presents the Exiles with a chance to redeem themselves.
“We will be back on our own patch on Sunday,” explained Smith. We always play well at home and want to put in another strong performance this weekend.”
Meanwhile, Sale have retained only five players from the run-on side that beat the Exiles at the City of Salford Stadium last week.
Danny Cipriani continues at fly-half in the only change amongst the backs. Up front, Andy Powell moves from number eight to blindside flank in place of Richie Vernon who moves to the other side of the scrum.
Fraser McKenzie (lock) and Tommy Taylor (hooker) are the other players that will be in the run-on side again for the second successive week.
London Irish: 15 Anthony Watson, 14 Topsy Ojo, 13 Guy Armitage, 12 Shane Geraghty, 11 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 10 Ian Humphreys, 9 Darren Allinson, 8 Chris Hala'ufia, 7 Jamie Gibson, 6 Matt Garvey, 5 Bryn Evans (c), 4 George Skivington, 3 Leo Halavatau, 2 Brian Blaney, 1 Alex Corbisiero.
Replacements: 16 Gerard Ellis, 17 Jerry Yanuyanutawa, 18 Cai Griffiths, 19 Kieran Low, 20 Alex Gray, 21 Conor Gaston, 22 Steven Shingler, 23 Jack Moates.
Sale Sharks: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Charlie Amesbury, 13 Will Addison, 12 Mark Jennings, 11 Cameron Shepherd, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9.Dwayne Peel (c), 8 Mark Easter. 7 Richie Vernon, 6 Andy Powell, 5 James Gaskell, 4 Fraser McKenzie, 3 Vadim Cobilas, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Eifion Lewis-Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Tom Cruse, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Tony Buckley, 19 Kearnan Myall, 20 Will Bordill, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Jordan Davies, 23 Corne Uys.
Date: Sunday, November 11
Venue: Madejski Stadium
Referee: Ian Tempest (England)
Assistant referees: Brian Ravenhill (England), Roy Maybank (England)
London Welsh v Exeter
Keen to build on the momentum of their dramatic late victory over Bath at the Kassam Stadium last week, London Welsh coach Lyn Jones makes just six changes, including one positional switch, for the visit of Exeter Chiefs.
Sonny Parker returns at outside centre, in place of Hudson Tonga'uiha, Nick Runciman comes in for Tyson Keats at scrum-half and Gordon Ross starts at fly-half in place of Gavin Henson.
In the forwards, Greg Bateman starts at tight-head prop in place of Paulica Ion and Daniel Browne is named at blindside flanker, with captain Jonathan Mills moving from blindside to the second row in place of Kirill Kulemin, who is on international duty with Russia.
There's a place on the bench for former Leicester Tigers, Gloucester, Worcester and Newcastle Falcons back row forward Adam Balding, while James Tideswell is set to make his first competitive appearance of the season off the replacements bench.
London Welsh will be hoping for a repeat of Exeter's visit to the Kassam Stadium on September 16, when Ed Jackson's late try and Seb Jewell's conversion gave the hosts a 25-24 win, and the club's first-ever Premiership victory.
Meanwhile, Exeter's England U20 starlets Jack Arnott, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Sam Hill, Jack Nowell and Henry Slade have all been recalled from their Championship clubs where they are dual-registered, whilst the Chiefs coaching team will also be keen to run the rule over the likes of Jack Yeandle, Will Carrick-Smith, Joel Conlon and Justin Blanchet – all of whom are included in a senior squad for the first time.
Exeter's coach for the tournament Ricky Pellow says the opportunity to shine is there for all of the Exeter players.
“The academy guys have been playing in the Championship this year and doing really well for their respective clubs, but now we've got them back and it's their chance to stake a claim,” he explained.
“We want to see them transfer the learning they've done with their loan clubs onto the pitch this Sunday.
“At the same time, those senior guys that have been battling hard and training hard, but not had as much game time as they would have liked, this is an opportunity for them to come through and put their hands up.”
Pellow knows this latest match-up against London welsh will be equally as tough as their Premiership loss earlier in the season.
“Whatever side they put out on Sunday, we know it's a tough place to go,” he said.
“It will be a real physical battle up there and one which we have to stand up too. They have a good driving line-out and their set-piece is also very strong, which gives them the platform from which to build.
“It's all areas we have identified this week and we've worked hard to try and combat that threat.”
London Welsh: 15 Tom Arscott, 14 Tom Voyce, 13 Sonny Parker, 12 Seb Jewell, 11 Nick Scott, 10 Gordon Ross, 9 Nick Runciman,8 Lee Beach. 7 Mike Denbee, 6 Daniel Browne, 5 Martin Purdy, 4 Jonathan Mills (c), 3 Greg Bateman, 2 Neil Briggs, 1 Franck Montanella.
Replacements: 16 Dan George, 17 Tom Bristow, 18 James Tideswell, 19 Adam Brown, 20 Adam Balding, 21 Alex Davies, 22 James Lewis,