The Wokingham Paper

PREVIEW: Cokanasiga returns as Kennedy rings the changes for London Irish

Joe Cokanasiga and Alex Lewington
Joe Cokanasiga is back from injury

Nick Kennedy has made 12 changes to his side for tomorrow’s European Challenge Cup opener with Edinburgh at Madejski Stadium (3pm).

London Irish have struggled to pick up results since their return to the Premiership, losing each of their last five.

Cokanasiga was called up to the England squad last season

And the majority of that side have been given the weekend off with only Topsy Ojo, who captains the side, Josh McNally and Ben Meehan retaining their places.

INTERVIEW: Blair Cowan named London Irish player of the month

Exciting winger Joe Cokanasiga makes his return from injury while Tom Woolstencroft makes his debut after joining the club earlier this week.

LONDON IRISH XV: Ransom, Cokanasiga, Fowlie, Williams, Ojo (c), Brophy Clews, Meehan, Elrington, Woolstencroft, Hoskins, Lloyd, McNally, Northcote-Green, Gilsenan, Lomidze.

Reps: Gleave, Smallbone, Chawatama, Cooke, Curtis-Harris, Steele, Atkins, Loader.

And Kennedy has called on this group of players to make his life difficult when team selection for league games roll around again.

“We’ve got a few injuries here and there and a few niggles and a few sore bodies so we will freshen things up and rotate a little bit,” Exiles’ director of rugby told The Wokingham Paper.

Tom Woolstencroft is set to make his Exiles debut

“We are really looking forward to a new and fresh competition.

“Someone’s injury is someone else’s opportunity to stake their claim on places in the team moving forwards, so we’re looking forward to seeing some fresh faces out there.

“The Premiership is our number one focus, make no mistake about it.

“But we want to go out and win every game.

“We’re doing everything we can this week to beat Edinburgh.”

It will be the third straight European campaign in which the Exiles have faced Edinburgh.

Irish beat them at Madejski Stadium in the pool stage in 2015, but lost the reverse fixture and were edged out by the Pro14 club in the quarter-finals the previous season.

“Edinburgh are a bit different to when we played them a couple of years ago,” said Kennedy.

“Richard Cockerill is in charge and they are a very abrasive and very physical team.

“We are going to have our work cut out for us on Saturday.”

Tickets for the game are on sale from the London Irish website, priced from just £1 for children.

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