L Irish v Gloucester: Teams
At The Madejski Stadium, Sun Oct 21, KO 4pm live on SS2
Last Updated: 19/10/07 4:22pm
Paterson: Kicking king
New signing Peter Hewat will go straight into the London Irish starting XV for Sunday's match against Premiership leaders Gloucester at the Madejski Stadium.
Hewat will make his debut at full back, having arrived in England on Tuesday after he played his final game for NSW Waratahs in Australia last Saturday.
Injured Dominic Shabbo will be replaced at outside centre by Delon Armitage, while Shane Geraghty has fully recovered from a leg injury and returns to fly half after a three week absence.
Irish also make changes to their back row, with Declan Danaher switching to openside flanker and Kieran Roche coming in at blindside, leaving Steffon Armitage on the bench.
Phil Murphy will start at No.8 in place of Richard Thorpe, who also finds himself among the replacements.
London Irish director of rugby Brian Smith is looking forward to pitting his wits against Gloucester side yet to lose this season.
He said: "This weekend's match is a terrific challenge for us.
"We struggled last week against Wasps but on Sunday afternoon we have the opportunity to turn things round against the best in the league.
"Dean Ryan and his staff are creating a new force in English rugby, they have a fantastic squad and they're in form.
"While we have similar records on defence, Gloucester's attack is the best in the league, but if we can match them with ball in hand our supporters will be in for a great afternoon's rugby."
Scottish international Chris Paterson will make his Gloucester debut against London Irish at the Madejski Stadium on Sunday, as the Premiership's unbeaten leaders look to stretch their advantage.
Paterson completed his move from Edinburgh during the summer, and returned from Scotland's campaign at the World Cup with a 100% kicking record
He will make his first appearance for Gloucester at No.14 in place of Leon Lloyd, and his new head coach Dean Ryan will welcome him into his side with open arms.
Ryan said: "I am delighted to be able to select a guy of Chris Paterson's quality.
"We know what he brings to the group in terms of his knowledge and understanding of the game, and he has a mountain of experience as an international-quality player."
Gloucester, searching for their sixth successive win, will make five other changes to the line-up which beat Sale Sharks 31-12 last Saturday.
Nick Wood will be replaced at loose-head prop by Patrice Collazo, while Italy's national captain Marco Bortolami will take the No.4 shirt from Will James.
On the openside flank, Fijian international Akapusi Qera will replace Alasdair Strokosch who makes the bench.
Iain Balshaw returns at full back following Olly Morgan's hamstring injury, with Rory Lawson replaced at scrum half by Mike Prendergast.
Coach Ryan feels the start of the season has been hard on the players he's had available, but believes adapting his XV for every game will ensure Gloucester continue to have success.
Ryan said: "Although our squad strength is now returning, we have operated with a core group of about 23 or 24 players for the first five games, and that has been very hard on them.
"I have said from week one that we will select a team appropriate for each and every individual game, and that is what we have done. I think it is tremendously exciting to see some of the combinations in action."
With London Irish having caused problems to Gloucester in recent years, Ryan knows his side will need to be fully focused on the game ahead.
He said: "I'm sure London Irish have not made the start they were hoping for, but they have the majority of the squad still together from last season, and we have a lot of respect for how they approach the game and what they want to achieve.
"We are expecting a kick-back from their performance last weekend and we will have to respond in the right way. We are looking forward to the occasion; it is a great place to play and a big game for us."
London Irish: 15 Peter Hewat, 14 Topsy Ojo, 13 Delon Armitage, 12 Seilala Mapusua, 11 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 10 Shane Geraghty, 9 Paul Hodgson, 1 Dan Murphy, 2 David Paice, 3 Tonga Lea'aetoa, 4 Nick Kennedy, 5 Bob Casey (c), 6 Kieran Roche, 7 Declan Danaher, 8 Phil Murphy.
Replacements: 16 Tom Warren, 17 Stuart Mackie, 18 Gary Johnson, 19 Steffon Armitage, 20 Richard Thorpe, 21 Warren Fury, 22 Jeremy Staunton.
Gloucester: 15 Iain Balshaw, 14 Chris Paterson, 13 Mike Tindall, 12 Anthony Allen, 11 James Bailey, 10 Ryan Lamb, 9 Mike Prendergast, 1 Patrice Collazo, 2 Andy Titterrell, 3 Carlos Nieto, 4 Marco Bortolami, 5 Alex Brown, 6 Peter Buxton (c), 7 Akapusi Qera, 8 Luke Narraway.
Replacements: 16 Oliver Azam, 17 Christian Califano, 18 Will James, 19 Alasdair Strokosch, 20 Rory Lawson, 21 Willie Walker, 22 Leon Lloyd.