Exiles target top six finish
January 26, 2007
London Irish has selected a strong match squad for Sunday's stiff test against Saracens at Vicarage Road.
This latest "London Derby" is one of the key tests of this season's Guinness Premiership for both clubs.
With the finish of the club's interest in the Heineken Cup last Sunday at Stradey Park , the Exiles resort to a more familiar starting line-up that features a strong pack and a set of backs with attacking credentials.
Mike Catt returns from England squad training to lead the team at inside centre. Another back making a welcome return from injury is Sailosi Tagicakibau on the left wing. Riki Flutey and Paul Hodgson occupy the half-back positions.
There is a familiar look about the pack with Danie Coetzee and Faan Rautenbach starting at hooker and tight head prop. Earlier this week Coetzee signed a two year extension to his contract with the Exiles. Bob Casey and Nick Kennedy renew their partnership in the second row while Juan Leguizamon starts at No 8.
"Starting on Sunday we face a sequence of six league games that will determine the outcome of our season," said Brian Smith, London Irish Director of Rugby . "We believe we are capable of a top six finish but realise that a lot of other clubs have a similar target.
"We are under no illusions about the difficulty of our task on Sunday," continued Smith., "Saracens are on a roll having won seven of their last eight matches. Alan Gaffney has the luxury of picking from a talented, fit and almost full strength squad that will want to give of their best in front of the home crowd. Our players have worked hard during the week and want to win."
* Denotes international
"At the crux of this England team is a lack of fear, they are not afraid to throw playbooks out of the window." Tom Hamilton reports from Twickenham
"These little deft touches, the nuances O'Driscoll has perfected are what Ireland will miss most." Tom Hamilton on Brian O'Driscoll's final Test in Dublin
After Brian O'Driscoll's emotional final Ireland appearance on home soil, and seeing the Six Nations boil down to a three-horse race, we bring you the best images of the weekend
Last year's thrashing at the hands of Wales was not the first time England have fallen to their rivals. Scrum Sevens looks at whether they have bounced back the following year