9 November 2018
TEAM NEWS: Nalaga returns to first team affairs for cup trip
Napolioni Nalaga starts for London Irish as they open up their Championship Cup account at Hartpury RFC tomorrow (kick-off 1pm).
The Champions Cup-winning winger returns to first team duties a year on from injuring his arm against Newcastle Falcons in the Premiership, and is a welcome addition to the starting XV having enjoyed some game time during a series of friendlies in recent months.
Nalaga is part of a new-look backline that sees Theo Brophy Clews and Tom Fowlie combining at inside and outside centre respectively, while Exiles academy product Ollie Hassell-Collins retains his place on the right wing.
Brendan McKibbin gets the nod at scrum-half, the Aussie partnering fly-half Stephen Myler at the heart of the Exiles’ backline with Greig Tonks occupying the full-back berth.
Lovejoy Chawatama is handed his first start of the season at tighthead and packs down alongside former Wallaby hooker Saia Fainga’a and loosehead Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi.
Barney Maddison and Sebastian De Chaves provide industry in the engine room, with Irishman Conor Gilsenan, Max Northcote-Green and Matt Rogerson starting in the back-row.
Replacement scrum-half Scott Steele is set to make his 99th appearance for Irish off the bench, the Dumfries-born playmaker undoubtedly itching to hit the century mark.
The Exiles have been pitted with Hartpury, Bedford Blues and Cornish Pirates in Group 2 of the competition.
Group 2 fixtures:-
Sat 10 Nov Hartpury RFC v London Irish (kick-off 3pm)
Sun 18 Nov London Irish v Cornish Pirates (kick-off 3pm)
Sun 25 Nov London Irish v Bedford Blues (kick-off 3pm)
Sat 1 Dec Bedford Blues v London Irish (kick-off 3pm)
Sun 9 Dec London Irish v Hartpury RFC (kick-off 3pm)
Sat 15 Dec Cornish Pirates v London Irish (kick-off 2pm)
Tickets for all home fixtures can be purchased at ticketing.londonirish.net or call 0118 968 1016.
Following the pool stage, the quarter-finals are scheduled to be played on the weekend 1-3 February, the semi-finals on the weekend 22-24 February, and the final on Saturday the 4 May.
London Irish: 15 Greig Tonks, 14 Ollie Hassell-Collins, 13 Tom Fowlie, 12 Theo Brophy Clews, 11 Napolioni Nalaga, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Brendan McKibbin (c), 1 Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi, 2 Saia Fainga’a, 3 Lovejoy Chawatama, 4 Barney Maddison, 5 Sebastian De Chaves, 6 Conor Gilsenan, 7 Max Northcote-Green, 8 Matt Rogerson
Replacements: 16 Dave Porecki, 17 Ollie Hoskins, 18 Jake Schatz, 19 Jack Cooke, 20 Scott Steele, 21 Jacob Atkins, 22 Matt Williams