LONDON Irish have recalled several of their heavy hitters as they aim to secure a 17th successive Greene King IPA Championship victory on the St Patrick’s Day Party against Cornish Pirates.
More than 10,000 fans are expected at Madejski Stadium as Nick Kennedy’s men aim to continue their unbeaten run, with two-time World Cup-winning All Black Ben Franks back in the front row.
He will pack down alongside Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi and skipper David Paice, while George Robson and Sebastian De Chaves start in the second row.
Club captain Luke Narraway is joined by Scottish international Blair Cowan and Sentiki Nayolo in the back row, with Brendan McKibbin and Justin Marshall starting at scrum half and fly half respectively.
Fergus Mulchrone gets the nod at inside centre with Aseli Tikoirotuma outside him, while Topsy Ojo – fresh from scoring his 78th try for the club against Yorkshire Carnegie last Saturday – Alex Lewington and Ben Ransom round off the back line.
Irish have won 22 of their 23 games during a memorable year at the helm for Kennedy, but he is expecting another tough test.
He said: “It’s very important that we concentrate on one game at a time and maintain our focus for 80 minutes.
“Building momentum is crucial at this stage of the season – we’re on a good winning run and we are aiming to continue this.
“With a lot of competition for places, training has been intense this week as players put their hands up for selection.”
He continued: “We’re looking forward to the challenge that awaits us and Cornish Pirates will be keen to put pressure on the teams above them as they look to break into the top four.
“After playing them on three previous occasions this season, we’re well aware of the threats that they pose and it will be tough test.”
London Irish: 15 Ben Ransom, 14 Alex Lewington, 13 Aseli Tikoirotuma, 12 Fergus Mulchrone, 11 Topsy Ojo, 10 James Marshall, 9 Brendan McKibbin, 1 Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi, 2 David Paice (c), 3 Ben Franks, 4 George Robson, 5 Sebastian De Chaves, 6 Luke Narraway, 7 Blair Cowan, 8 Senitiki Nayalo
Replacements: 16 Dave Porecki, 17 Harry Elrington, 18 Ollie Hoskins, 19 Josh McNally, 20 Jerry Sexton, 21 Scott Steele, 22 Jacob Atkins
Cornish Pirates: 15 Toby May, 14 Alex O’Meara, 13 Alex Dancer, 12 Nicolas De Battista 11 Kyle Moyle, 10 Will Cargill, 9 Alex Day 1 Marlen Walker, 2 Jack Innard, 3 Paul Andrew, 4 Chris Morgan (c) 5 Brett Beukeboom, 6 Jake Parker, 7 Dan Lee, 8 Tom Duncan.
Replacements: 16 Jack Andrew, 17 Luke Chapman, 18 John Stevens, 19 Bar Bartlett 20 Mike Pope, 21Laurence May, 22 Jack Arnott.