Summer signing James Marshall will make his debut at Bedford Blues this Saturday in the Greene King IPA Championship (kick-off 3pm).
New Zealander Marshall, 27, who made the switch to Irish from Super Rugby outfit the Hurricanes, starts at full-back and is one of seven changes to the side that secured a 36-12 bonus-point victory over Richmond last weekend.
Tom Court, Jerry Sexton, Conor Gilsenan, Darren Allinson, Ben Ransom and Tom Fowlie all come into Director of Rugby Nick Kennedy’s starting XV as the Exiles look to make it three wins on the spin.
Experienced loose-head prop Court partners David Paice and Ben Franks in the front-row, while second-row Sexton, openside flanker Gilsenan as well as backs Allinson and Ransom are handed their first starts of the campaign.
Academy product Fowlie, a try-scorer on the opening weekend of the season, returns at outside centre after missing last week’s clash at home to Richmond through injury.
Exiles chief Kennedy insists this weekend’s trip to Bedford, the club’s first away trip of the campaign, will be a stern test for his side.
“Bedford will be a very tough proposition for us and we will need to be right on top of our game both mentally and physically, in order to get the win,” said Kennedy.
He added: “Goldington Road is a notoriously difficult place to go and play your rugby, but we are very much relishing the challenge.
“Training has gone well this week and there is a positive atmosphere in and around the club at present.”
Looking forward to seeing new recruit Marshall in action, Kennedy said: “James [Marshall] is a very talented ball player with an excellent skill-set and it will be good to see him out on the field with his new teammates.
“He’s settled in very well here at London Irish and I know he’s keen to make an impact.”
London Irish: 15 James Marshall, 14 Topsy Ojo, 13 Tom Fowlie, 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Ben Ransom, 10 Tommy Bell, 9 Darren Allinson, 1 Tom Court, 2 David Paice (c), 3 Ben Franks, 4 George Robson, 5 Jerry Sexton, 6 Joe Trayfoot, 7 Conor Gilsenan, 8 Ofisa Treviranus
Replacements: 16 Gerard Ellis, 17 Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi, 18 Richard Palframan, 19 Will Lloyd, 20 Max Northcote-Green, 21 Scott Steele, 22 Aseli Tikoirotuma