Springbok international Piet van Zyl will make his full London Irish debut at Cardiff Blues in Round 4 of the Anglo-Welsh Cup this Friday (kick-off 7.45pm).
The three-time capped Bok, who came off the bench to bag himself a try during last week’s 66-7 victory over Wasps, is included in the starting XV as they look to make it four wins on the bounce in the Welsh capital.
Van Zyl’s former Blue Bulls teammate Arno Botha retains his place in the back row alongside Max Northcote-Green and Ofisa Treviranus, while Franco van der Merwe and skipper Mike Coman continue in the engine room.
David Paice, who is edging towards breaking the all-time appearance record held by Topsy Ojo, starts in the front row with Ben Franks and Ollie Hoskins.
Meanwhile in the backline Theo Brophy Clews gets the nod at fly-half, the academy graduate now only one point away from recording his 100th career point. Keeping with the 100 theme, Alex Lewington is closing in on his 100th outing for the club and starts on the wing, with Joe Cokanasiga occupying the other flank. Johnny Williams and Tom Fowlie combine at centre, with James Marshall continuing at full-back.
“We’re on a decent run with three successive victories and it’s important that we continue to build momentum going into a crucial block of Aviva Premiership games,” said London Irish director of rugby Nick Kennedy.
“I thought we played well last week, scoring some excellent tries and we must continue in the same fashion by being clinical in key areas of the field.
“I was pleased with how Piet van Zyl and Arno Botha both did last week and they are settling into the club very well. Piet came off the bench to score a try and he deserves his place in the starting XV against a good Cardiff Blues side.”
London Irish: 15 James Marshall, 14 Joe Cokanasiga, 13 Tom Fowlie, 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Alex Lewington, 10 Theo Brophy Clews, 9 Piet van Zyl, 1 Ben Franks, 2 David Paice, 3 Ollie Hoskins, 4 Franco van der Merwe, 5 Mike Coman (c), 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 Blair Cowan, 21 Scott Steele, 22 Tommy Bell, 23 Aseli Tikoirotuma
London Irish’s next home game is against Sale Sharks in the Aviva Premiership on Saturday 10 February (kick-off 3pm). Tickets are available from £3 for under 13s and £23 for adults if you book in advance by calling the Ticket Office on 0118 968 1016 (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, Saturday 9am to noon) or online at www.lidirect.co.uk