Team: London Irish
Coach: Toby Booth
Home ground: Madejski Stadium
Darren Allinson (Cardiff Blues), Guy Armitage (Wellington College), Daniel Bowden (Canterbury Crusaders), Brian Blaney (Leinster), Sam Edgerley (Wellington College), Marland Yarde (Whitgift School)
Danie Coetzee (Retired), Charlie Gower (Released), Peter Hewat (Suntory), Andy Perry (Released), John Rudd (Retired), Peter Richards (Retired)
Strengths: On their day, the Exiles can play at devastating pace, with big strong runners hitting gaps and putting their side on the front foot. They’ve been able to surprise a few teams with such speed, and if they can minimise their off days on which they don’t seem to perform, they should challenge at the right end of the table.
Weaknesses: The off days were becoming slightly more frequent as the season progressed last year, and it’s this inexplicable propensity for them to lose their way that is likely to hinder their chances this term. Chief executive Andy Martin has cited a top four finish as the minimum requirement, but the squad is largely unchanged and they are no longer the surprise package in the league.
One to watch: The precocious Tom Homer made a big impact in a few matches towards the end of last year, and this season could become a fixture at full-back. He looks confident at the back and the schoolboy 100-metre sprinter has pace to burn.
We’re expecting another hard-fought but ultimately fruitless season with London Irish falling away towards the end of the season – 8th