Planet Rugby

Preview: London Irish v Gloucester

19th October 2007 12:35

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chris paterson

Chris Paterson: Scotland skipper set to make his Gloucester debut

Chris Paterson, the deadliest kicker at the 2007 World Cup, will make his Gloucester debut against London Irish in the Guinness Premiership clash at the Madejski Stadium on Sunday.

The Scotland international, who returned home from France with a 100 per cent kicking record, will wear the number fourteen shirt as Gloucester hunt their sixth successive victory this season.

With Gloucester's growing squad strength, head coach Dean Ryan has again shifted around his line-up and has made six changes to the team that beat Sale Sharks 31-12 last Saturday.

There are three changes to the forward pack - Patrice Collazo comes in at loose-head prop in place of Nick Wood, Marco Bortolami, the Italian national captain, comes in at number four for Will James and Fijian international Akapusi Qera replaces Alasdair Strokosch on the openside flank.

"Although our squad strength is now returning, we have operated with a core group of about 23 or 24 players for the first five games and that has been very hard on them," said Ryan.

"I have said from week one that we will select a team appropriate for each and every individual game and that is what we have done. I think it is tremendously exciting to see some of the combinations in action."

Alongside Collazo, Andy Titterrell retains the number two shirt and will pack down alongside Carlos Nieto at tight-head.

There are also three changes in the backline that sees Paterson coming in on the wing for Leon Lloyd, who moves to the bench.

Iain Balshaw returns at full-back because Olly Morgan is ruled out with a hamstring strain and Mike Prendergast comes in at scrum-half for Rory Lawson.

Ryan Lamb will partner Prendergast at fly-half, while James Bailey, Mike Tindall and Anthony Allen complete the line-up.

Lesley Vainikolo (neck), James Simpson-Daniel (hamstring) Andy Hazell (ribs), and Gareth Cooper (hamstring) are all recovering from injury.

"I am delighted to be able to select a guy of Chris Paterson's quality," said Ryan.

"We know what he brings to the group in terms of his knowledge and understanding of the game and has a mountain of experience as an international-quality player.

"He is fantastically reliable and able to play in a number of positions.

"We have taken our time to integrate some of our returning World Cup players but we were keen to get Chris and Akapusi some game-time and view this is a good opportunity for them against opponents who have been tough to beat for us in recent years."

Meanwhile, Peter Hewat, London Irish's new signing from the Waratahs and who only arrived in England on Tuesday, comes straight into the starting line-up for the Exiles.

Hewat led his Central Coast Rays team to victory last Saturday in the inaugural Australian Rugby Championship, scoring 15 out of the team's 20 points.

He will start at full-back in a London Irish team that shows five changes - three personnel and two positional - to the starting line-up that took the field against London Wasps last weekend.

In the backs Delon Armitage moves to outside centre where he takes over from the injured Dominic Shabbo. Shane Geraghty returns at fly-half having recovered fully from the leg injury that has kept him out of action for the past three weeks.

The changes in the pack are in the back row where Kieran Roche comes in at blindside flanker with Declan Danaher switching to openside and Steffon Armitage dropping to the bench.

Phil Murphy starts at number eight in place of Richard Thorpe who is named among the replacements.

Form: London Irish have lost three successive matches in the Guinness Premiership, but at Madejski Stadium in the competition the Exiles have been beaten just twice since last November. Gloucester Rugby have made the perfect start to their season with five successive victories. Three of those wins have been on the road and Gloucester's best ever away run in the Premiership is four consecutive victories from April-September 2002. Both encounters between the two in the Guinness Premiership last season went the way of Gloucester. Gloucester have won on three of their last five visits to Madejski Stadium.

London Irish: 15 Peter Hewat, 14 Topsy Ojo, 13 Delon Armitage, 12 Seilala Mapusua, 11 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 10 Shane Geraghty, 9 Paul Hodgson, 8 Phil Murphy, 7 Declan Danaher, 6 Kieran Roche, 5 Bob Casey (c), 4 Nick Kennedy, 3 Tonga Lea'aetoa, 2 David Paice, 1 Dan Murphy

Replacements: 16 Tom Warren, 17 Stuart Mackie, 18 Gary Johnson, 19 Steffon Armitage, 20 Richard Thorpe, 21 Warren Fury, 22 Jeremy Staunton

Gloucester: 15 Iain Balshaw; 14 Chris Paterson, 13 Mike Tindall, 12 Anthony Allen, 11 James Bailey, 10 Ryan Lamb, 9 Mike Prendergast, 8 Luke Narraway, 7 Akapusi Qera, 6 Peter Buxton (c), 5 Alex Brown, 4 Marco Bortolami, 3 Carlos Nieto, 2 Andy Titterrell, 1 Patrice Collazo

Replacements: 16 Olivier Azam, 17 Christian Califano, 18 Will James, 19 Alasdair Strokosch, 20 Rory Lawson, 21 Willie Walker, 22 Leon Lloyd

Date: Sunday, 21 October

Venue: Madejski Stadium

Kick-off: 16:00 (15:00 GMT)

Referee: Sean Davey

Touch judges: Robin Goodliffe, Paul Dix

Television match official: John Burtenshaw, Geoff Warren

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