Sean O’Brien is set to skipper London Irish in what will be only his second outing for the Gallagher Premiership club since joining from Leinster in 2019. 

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It was March when the back row finally shook off the long-term injury that ruled him out of Ireland World Cup contention, taking his place in the Exiles XV that was badly hammered at high-flying Sale. 

Now, fresh from the lockdown pre-season, O’Brien will captain Declan Kidney’s Irish team when they visit Bath in their first match since the 2019/20 season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

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Harry Elrington, Motu Matu’u and Sekope Kepu will make up the front row, with Ben Donnell and George Nott named in the second row.

Matt Rogerson is at blindside flanker, with O’Brien at openside flanker. Albert Tuisue completes the pack, wearing the No8 jersey.

Australia international Nick Phipps partners former Ireland international Paddy Jackson in the half-backs, and Terrence Hepetema and Curtis Rona renew their partnership in the centres.

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London Irish academy graduates make up the back three as Ollie Hassell-Collins and Ben Loader are named on the wings, with Tom Parton starting at full-back.

“We are excited to finally get back out on the pitch and play some rugby after a long absence away from the sport,” said Kidney. “Bath are a good side that pose a big threat. We know that this is a tough restart to the Gallagher Premiership, but we are looking forward to the test ahead.”

LONDON IRISH (v Bath, Saturday)
15 Tom Parton; 14 Ben Loader, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Terrence Hepetema, 11 Ollie Hassell-Collins; 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Nick Phipps; 1 Harry Elrington, 2 Motu Matu’u, 3 Sekope Kepu, 4 Ben Donnell, 5 George Nott, 6 Matt Rogerson, 7 Sean O’Brien (capt), 8 Albert Tuisue.

Replacements:
16 Matt Cornish, 17 Will Goodrick-Clarke, 18 Ollie Hoskins, 19 Sebastian de Chaves, 20 Blair Cowan, 21 Ben Meehan, 22 Theo Brophy Clews, 23 Matt Williams.

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