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Preview: London Irish v Saracens

06th September 2013 10:17

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Marland Yarde London Irish v Saracens AVP 2012

Marland Yarde: Part of an exciting Exiles back three

Ireland scrum-half Tomás O'Leary will captain London Irish as they open their Aviva Premiership campaign against Saracens at Twickenham as part of the the London Double Header.

Matt Parr, David Paice and Halani Aulika make up the front-row. Nic Rouse will partner New Zealand international, Bryn Evans in the second-row and Jon Fisher, Kieran Low and Ofisa Treviranus will play together in the back-row.

Ian Humphreys will partner O'Leary in the halves with Eamonn Sheridan and Guy Armitage forming the centre combination. England international, Marland Yarde will join Sailosi Tagicakibau and Topsy Ojo in the back three.

Brian Smith, Exiles Director of Rugby said: "Our players have been back in training since June 3 and have been looking forward to the 7th September for some time. It is always a privilege to play in front of a big crowd at Twickenham and the squad are ready to go."

Meanwhile, Billy Vunipola will make his Saracens debut on the flank while Matt Stevens, Owen Farrell and Brad Barritt are the club's British and Irish Lions members in the starting line-up with Mako Vunipola named among the replacements.

"The London Double Header is a great way to start to new season with all four London clubs battling it out in a showpiece occasion in front of a big crowd," explained Saracens boss Mark McCall.

"London Irish have made a number of changes on and off the field. In Brian Smith they have an experienced Director of Rugby and with the likes of Tomas O'Leary, Sailosi Tagicakibau and Marland Yarde in their squad, they have quality on the pitch which should make for an exciting game.

"The objective of our club is to be consistently successful and we are aware that in order for that to be achieved, there will be no substitute for hard work over the coming months - starting on Saturday against London Irish."

Form: London Irish have won just two of their last six London Double Headers, whilst their only victory at Twickenham in their last eight visits in all competitions was 33-16 against Saracens in round one in 2010. Saracens lost on their most recent visit to Twickenham: 12-24 to Toulon in the semi-final of last season's European Cup. Sarries overall record in the nine previous London Double Headers is won 4, lost 5. The Exiles won 29-16 when the two sides last met on 9 February at Vicarage Road in Aviva Premiership Rugby, to end a four game losing run against Saracens. The three previous London Double Headers between the two clubs have been edged by Saracens by two wins to one.

The teams:

London Irish: 15 Topsy Ojo, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Guy Armitage, 12 Eamonn Sheridan, 11 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 10 Ian Humphreys, 9 Tomás O'Leary, (captain), 8 Jon Fisher 7 Ofisa Treviranus, 6 Kieran Low, 5 Bryn Evans, 4 Nic Rouse, 3 Halani Aulika, 2 David Paice, 1 Matt Parr.
Replacements: 16 Jimmy Stevens, 17 John Yapp, 18 Leo Halavatau, 19 Declan Danaher, 20 Chris Hala'ufia, 21 Andrew Fenby, 22 Shane Geraghty, 23 Darren Allinson.

Saracens: 15 Chris Wyles, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Joel Tomkins, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 David Strettle, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Jacques Burger, 6 Billy Vunipola, 5 Alistair Hargreaves, 4 Steve Borthwick (c) 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Jamie George, 1 Rhys Gill.
Replacements: 16 Scott Spurling, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Petrus du Plessis, 19 George Kruis, 20 Jackson Wray, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Nils Mordt, 23 Ben Ransom.

Date: Saturday, September 7
Venue: Twickenham Stadium
Kick-off: 14.00 BST (13.00 GMT)
Referee: Greg Garner

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