Club captain Luke Narraway returns to the starting XV for this Sunday’s Pool 2 British and Irish Cup trip to Cornish Pirates (kick-off 2.30pm).

A hip injury has sidelined the 32-year-old since September and his inclusion in the back-row is a timely boost for the Exiles going into the second half of the campaign.

England capped Narraway, now into his third season with Irish, is one of three changes to the side that defeated the Pirates 33-24 last weekend.

Richard Palframan adds steel to the front-row alongside Harry Elrington and Dave Porecki, while Ross Neal partners Matt Williams at inside centre.

Irish, who have racked up a sequence of 14 wins out of 14 in all competitions, top Pool 2 and a maximum victory in Penzance will secure a safe passage through to the quarter-finals should the Pirates fail to pick up a losing bonus-point.  

Director of Rugby Nick Kennedy is expecting yet another stern test from the Pirates: “Cornish Pirates were physical coupled with a clinical edge in attack when we played them last week, and it will be even tougher down at their place.

“As we experienced last month in the league, Penzance is a difficult place to play your rugby and we will need to be switched on mentally if we are to come away with a result.”

Commenting on Narraway’s return to first team affairs, Kennedy said: “It’s great to have Luke back – his experience will be vital to the cause as we enter the business end of the season.

“As a club we are striving for improvement week on week, and that is what I’m looking for ahead of the return of Championship action on Christmas Eve.”

London Irish: 15 Tom Parton, 14 Joe Cokanasiga, 13 Matt Williams, 12 Ross Neal, 11 Ciaran Hearn, 10 Greig Tonks, 9 Connor Murphy, 1 Harry Elrington, 2 Dave Porecki, 3 Richard Palframan, 4 Jack Cooke, 5 Jerry Sexton, 6 Luke Narraway (c), 7 Conor Gilsenan, 8 Senitiki Nayalo

Replacements: 16 Austin Hay, 17 Ollie Hoskins, 18 Luke Frost, 19 Gerard Ellis, 20 Jacob Atkins, 21 Rory Brand, 22 Ben Loader

The Exiles’ next home game is against Bedford Blues in the Greene King IPA Championship on New Year’s Eve (kick-off 2pm) with tickets available by calling 0118 968 1016 or click here to purchase online. 

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