21 December 2017
Saia Fainga’a will make his full Aviva Premiership debut for London Irish when they travel to Worcester Warriors tomorrow evening (kick-off 7.45pm, live on BT Sport).
The 36-times capped Wallaby starts at hooker alongside double World Cup winning All Black Ben Franks and experienced tighthead Petrus Du Plessis.
Former Springbok international Franco van der Merwe and Samoan Teofilo Paulo get the nod in the engine room, while Mike Coman, Blair Cowan and Ofisa Treviranus make up the back row. Cowan, who is closing in on 100 appearances for Irish, returns to his former club having spent the 2012/13 campaign at Sixways.
Meanwhile, Ben Meehan and James Marshall start at scrum-half and fly-half respectively, with Greig Tonks controlling affairs from full-back.
Skipper Fergus Mulchrone and Luke McLean start in the centres, while Joe Cokanasiga and Alex Lewington provide the pace on either wing.
“We’ve had a very good training week and we’re all looking forward to the game,” said Exiles’ director of rugby Nick Kennedy.
“Selecting a team wasn’t easy, with a number of players forcing themselves into the starting XV on the back of good performances.
“Worcester are an excellent team with threats right across the park and it’s important that we’re at it from the very first whistle.
“We’re now approaching the midway point in the season and there are many points still to be won starting with tomorrow night’s game.”
London Irish: 15 Greig Tonks, 14 Joe Cokanasiga, 13 Fergus Mulchrone (c), 12 Luke McLean, 11 Alex Lewington, 10 James Marshall, 9 Ben Meehan, 1 Ben Franks, 2 Saia Fainga’a, 3 Petrus Du Plessis, 4 Franco van der Merwe, 5 Teofilo Paulo, 6 Mike Coman, 7 Blair Cowan, 8 Ofisa Treviranus
Replacements: 16 Tom Woolstencroft, 17 Gordon Reid, 18 Lovejoy Chawatama, 19 Sebastian De Chaves, 20 Max Northcote-Green, 21 Scott Steele, 22 Tommy Bell, 23 Aseli Tikoirotuma