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Aviva Premiership
Exiles set to lose key England duo
ESPN Staff
January 3, 2013
London Irish centre Jonathan Joseph tries to power his way through the Northampton Saints' defence, London Irish v Northampton Saints, Aviva Premiership, Majeski Stadium, Reading, England, October 6, 2012.
Jonathan Joseph is reportedly on Bath's radar © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Alex Corbisiero | Jonathan Joseph
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London Irish coach Brian Smith admits it is likely that England duo Jonathan Joseph and Alex Corbisiero will leave the club at the end of the season.

The Exiles are currently just one point above Sale in eleventh and face a battle on their hands if they are to avoid relegation from the top flight. While Smith is bullish about his side's chances of dodging the trapdoor, he is resigned to losing two of his premier players.

Irish lost the likes of Nick Kennedy and Delon Armitage at the end of last season and it seems likely that Corbisiero and Joseph are set for pastures new. Joseph is reportedly on Bath's radar while Corbisiero has been linked with Northampton Saints in the past.

But Smith admits the prospect of both still being at the Exiles next season is unlikely. "From the moment I set foot back in the club, I made it clear to those two boys that I wanted them to stay," Smith told the Daily Mail. "But I've got to be honest, I don't think we're going to keep everyone at the club. I would like to, but the fact is that over the past few seasons, 10 or 12 big-name players have left the club. There are probably still a couple more to go."

Players in the Premiership are allowed to talk to other English top flight teams when they have six months left on their contract. This date is usually January 1 but Smith concedes that some sides approach players before they are allowed to.

"It is disappointing, but that is just a fact of life," Smith added. "There are other clubs with bigger cheque-books, there are other clubs who are very pro-active in tapping-up players, and I've absolutely no doubt that a number of our lads have been worked on since very early in the season.

"We have made very, very robust offers to those two guys. They have known from day one that I've wanted them to stay. I've peppered their agents with calls, but to be fair neither of them have led me up the garden path, they have made it clear that they are keen to play the field in January."

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