Experienced campaigner David Paice will break London Irish’s all-time appearance record when he takes to the field against Northampton Saints at Franklin’s Gardens in the Aviva Premiership tomorrow (kick-off 3pm).
It will be the hooker’s 283rd appearance, eclipsing Topsy Ojo’s record of 282 outings set back in October before injury curtailed his season.
More than 13 years on from making his first team bow at Franklin’s Gardens, Paice returns to the scene of his debut to break the record.
“David’s work rate, effort and commitment has been second to none from the moment he made his debut in 2004,” said Exiles’ director of rugby Nick Kennedy.
“Having played alongside David, I know first-hand what he brings to the table and to reach this milestone is testament to his commitment and professionalism.”
Paice is part of a starting XV that sees just one change, Greig Tonks replacing fly-half Theo Brophy Clews who is ruled out through injury.
Tonks partners scrum-half Piet van Zyl at the heart of the Exiles’ backline, while Tom Fowlie and Luke McLean both retain their place in the centres. Irish’s top try-scorer this season, Alex Lewington makes his 99th appearance for the club with Joe Cokanasiga getting the nod on the other wing and James Marshall continuing at full-back.
Meanwhile, Paice is joined by Ben Franks and Ollie Hoskins in the front row, with skipper Franco van der Merwe and Teofilo Paulo both starting in the engine room. Arno Botha, Max Northcote-Green and Ofisa Treviranus make up an industrious back row.
“We’re expecting a stern test from a very good Northampton side, but we’re looking forward to the game and we’ll be doing everything we can to get the win that we need,” added Kennedy.
“We’ve made one enforced change, with Greig coming back into the mix and I’m looking forward to seeing the combination between him and Piet.”
London Irish: 15 James Marshall, 14 Joe Cokanasiga, 13 Tom Fowlie, 12 Luke McLean, 11 Alex Lewington, 10 Greig Tonks, 9 Piet van Zyl, 1 Ben Franks, 2 David Paice, 3 Ollie Hoskins, 4 Franco van der Merwe (c), 5 Teofilo Paulo, 6 Arno Botha, 7 Max Northcote-Green, 8 Ofisa Treviranus
Replacements: 16 Dave Porecki, 17 Harry Elrington, 18 Petrus Du Plessis, 19 Sebastian De Chaves, 20 Conor Gilsenan, 21 Scott Steele, 22 Tommy Bell, 23 Aseli Tikoirotuma