Premiership: London Irish v Leicester Tigers (Sat)

Marco van Staden could make his Leicester debut from the bench against London Irish
South Africa’s Marco van Staden could make his Leicester debut from the bench against London Irish
Venue: Brentford Community Stadium Date: Saturday, 9 October Kick-off: 15:00 BST Coverage: Updates on BBC local radio and live scores on the BBC Sport website

London Irish make three changes to their starting XV for the visit of Premiership leaders Leicester.

Terrence Hepetema comes in at centre, with prop Marcel van der Merwe and lock Steve Mafi brought into the pack.

Leicester captain Ellis Genge returns to their front row as one of seven changes made by Steve Borthwick.

Marco van Staden, who has yet to make his Tigers debut, and Julian Montoya are among the replacements after returning from the Rugby Championship.

Leicester are without centre Dan Kelly, who was suspended for three matches for striking with the shoulder in the closing stages of last weekend’s win over Saracens.

Freddie Steward replaces Freddie Burns at full-back for Leicester, who also switch the entire three-quarter line with Harry Potter, Matt Scott, Juan Pablo Socino and Nemani Nadolo also starting.

Apart from Genge’s return, the only other change in their pack sees Harry Wells replace Lewis Chessum.

London Irish academy graduates Ollie Hassell-Collins, Ben Loader and Tom Parton again make up their back three.

The Exiles have yet to register their first win of the season but drew with Sale and only lost by two points to Northampton last week after fighting back from a 17-0 deficit.

London Irish director of rugby Declan Kidney told BBC Radio London:

“We want to get off to better starts, but we also need to keep doing a lot of the things that we’ve been doing, but just knock off the rough edges.

“Because of the quality of the league, if you make an error, it can cost you seven points or if you’re lucky, it can lose you 50 metres.

“We’ve given ourselves a chance in all games so far and I believe if you keep knocking on the door, things will turn.

“A drop-goal goes over or a penalty kick goes through the posts, then we’re ‘the bees’ knees’. But we’re not going to be thinking like that either way, so that’s the constant balancing act you have to play.”

Leicester head coach Steve Borthwick told BBC Radio Leicester:

“Their phase attacking late in games looks exceptional. They are clearly a well-coached team, Declan has such a wealth of experience and Les (Kiss).

“Whilst the results have gone against them, a draw against Sale and a narrow defeat against Northampton, they have been tight games and some of their attack has been outstanding.

“We know it’s going to be a formidable challenge because they have got a lot of athleticism.

“You look at their pack with Creevy at hooker, Simmons and Coleman in the second row, Tuisue there, you’ve got a back row with Sean O’Brien, it’s a good team and when they really opened up and played that phased attack, they looked excellent.”

London Irish: Parton; Loader, Rona, Hepetema, Hassell-Collins; Jackson, Phipps; Goodrick-Clarke, Creevy, Van der Merwe, Mafi, Coleman, Rogerson (capt), Donnell, Tuisue.

Replacements: Cornish, Dell, Hoskins, Simmons, Nott, O’Brien, O’Sullivan, Van Rensburg.

Leicester: Steward; Potter, Scott, Socino, Nadolo; Ford, B Youngs; Genge (capt), Dolly, Cole, Wells, Green, Martin, Reffell, Liebenberg.

Replacements: Montoya, Leatigaga, Heyes, Snyman, Van Staden, Wigglesworth, Burns, Porter.

Referee: Adam Leal (RFU).

BBC News