Blair Cowan to become London Irish centurion
Blair Cowan is set to join London Irish’s 100 club when his side welcome Wasps to the Madejski Stadium in the Anglo-Welsh Cup tomorrow (kick-off 3pm).
Cowan, who penned fresh terms with the Exiles earlier this season, is named among the replacements as Irish look to record three wins on the bounce.
Making his debut against Bath in the Aviva Premiership in September 2013, the former Cornish Pirate and Worcester Warrior could also rack up his 100th point with a try this weekend.
While the Scotland capped forward prepares for his 100th outing, Springbok internationals Arno Botha and Piet van Zyl will don the famous green jersey for the first time. Botha gets the nod at blindside flanker alongside Max Northcote-Green and Ofisa Treviranus, while scrum-half van Zyl is named on the bench.
A front row comprising of Ben Franks, David Paice and Ollie Hoskins will take to the field, with Franco van der Merwe and skipper Mike Coman starting in the second row.
Meanwhile, Theo Brophy Clews who was in scintillating form with four tries against Krasny Yar at the Madejski a fortnight ago, occupies the fly-half berth alongside number nine Scott Steele.
London Irish academy graduates Johnny Williams and Tom Fowlie combine at centre, while wings Joe Cokanasiga and Alex Lewington will be looking to add to their try-scoring tallies. James Marshall returns at full-back, the New Zealander having enjoyed a solid outing at Leicester Tigers at the turn of this year.
“Blair has been an integral part of the club for the last four years and he’ll undoubtedly be chomping at the bit to make his 100th London Irish appearance,” said London Irish director of rugby Nick Kennedy.
“He’s a player who possesses a wealth of experience from his time in the Scotland set-up and his effort and work rate is second to none. His experience will be crucial for us going into the business end of the campaign and he thoroughly deserves his place on the 100 club wall at London Irish.”
Irish go into this weekend’s contest having recorded successive victories over Krasny Yar in the European Rugby Challenge Cup, with Kennedy keen for his side to continue the winning feeling.
“Momentum is key in any sport and having won our last two games there is a good feeling in the camp,” added Kennedy.
“Wasps have a lot of strength in depth and will be a tough proposition for us and we will need to be at our very best for the full 80 minutes if we are to get the win that we want.”
London Irish: 15 James Marshall, 14 Joe Cokanasiga, 13 Tom Fowlie, 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Alex Lewington, 10 Theo Brophy Clews, 9 Scott Steele, 1 Ben Franks, 2 David Paice, 3 Ollie Hoskins, 4 Franco van der Merwe, 5 Mike Coman (c), 6 Arno Botha, 7 Max Northcote-Green, 8 Ofisa Treviranus
Replacements: 16 Saia Fainga’a, 17 Harry Elrington, 18 Petrus Du Plessis, 19 Sebastian De Chaves, 20 Blair Cowan, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Tommy Bell, 23 Aseli Tikoirotuma
London Irish’s next home game will be against Wasps in the Anglo-Welsh Cup on Saturday 27 January. Under 13s tickets are just £1 throughout the stadium with adults from £15 from www.lidirect.co.uk or by calling 0118 968 1016 (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm and Saturday 9am to noon).