Three debutants for British and Irish Cup opener

14 October 2016

London Irish have handed debuts to Senitiki Nayalo, Joe Cokanasiga and Tom Parton for tomorrow’s British and Irish Cup opener against an Ospreys Premier Select in Neath (kick-off 2.30pm).

Fijian back-row Nayalo, 25, who penned permanent terms with the Exiles earlier this week following a successful trial period, starts at number-eight, while Academy products Cokanasiga and Parton, both 18, start on either wing.

Cokanasiga and Parton, who were part of the successful under-18s side that were crowned Premiership Rugby Academy Champions at the turn of the year, are two of five Academy products named in the starting XV as the Exiles look to make it seven wins out of seven.

Having both made their debuts from the bench this term, loose-head prop Harry Elrington and hooker Jason Harris-Wright pull on the Exiles jersey from the start alongside tight-head Ollie Hoskins.

Will Lloyd and Jerry Sexton get the nod in the engine room, while skipper for the day Conor Gilsenan and the in-form Max Northcote-Green start at openside and blindside flanker respectively.

In the backline scrum-half Darren Allinson and fly-half Greig Tonks combine at half-back, while Ross Neal and Tom Fowlie form a centre partnership. Ben Ransom, a summer recruit from Saracens, rounds off a much changed starting line-up.

Assistant Coach Clark Laidlaw said: “It’s going to be a big test against a quality Ospreys side, but we are relishing the challenge and I’m looking forward to seeing the full range of our squad in action.

“We have three lads making their debut as well as a number of players getting their chance of game time, so they will be itching to take full advantage of their opportunity.

“We have made a good start to the season and it’s important that we continue to build momentum in the British and Irish Cup ahead of a return to league action in a fortnight.”

London Irish: 15 Ben Ransom, 14 Tom Parton, 13 Tom Fowlie, 12 Ross Neal, 11 Joe Cokanasiga, 10 Greig Tonks, 9 Darren Allinson, 1 Harry Elrington, 2 Jason Harris-Wright, 3 Ollie Hoskins, 4 Will Lloyd, 5 Jerry Sexton, 6 Max Northcote-Green, 7 Conor Gilsenan (c), 8 Senitiki Nayalo

Replacements: 16 Todd Gleave, 17 Richard Palframan, 18 Jack Cooke, 19 Mike Coman, 20 Conor Murphy, 21 Shane Geraghty, 22 Matt Williams

London Irish welcome Connacht Eagles to the Madejski Stadium on Saturday 22nd October (kick-off 3pm) in what will be the second round of the British and Irish Cup - click here to get tickets now or call our ticket hotline on 0118 968 1016.

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