European Challenge Cup: London Irish v Castres Olympique (Fri)

Sean O'Brien
Sean O'Brien, a former forward for Ireland and British and Irish Lions, will be playing his first game since he announced his retirement from the sport at season's end
Venue: Brentford Community Stadium Date:Friday, 15 April Kick-off: 17:30 BST
Coverage:Live scores updates via the BBC Sport app and website

London Irish make five adjustments to their side in the European Challenge Cup last-16 tie against Castres.

Kyle Rowe replaces Lucio Cinti as a wingman in the one-off change in the backs of the Harlequins side that was heavily beaten earlier in the month.

Marcel van der Merwe is in as prop, while Adam Coleman prefers to be at lock to George Nott.

Tom Pearson will replace Matt Rogerson in the back row, while Sean O'Brien will start a week after his retirement announcement.

The Exiles will be making the quarter-finals in the Challenge Cup for the second season after finishing second in a pool that also included group winners Edinburgh as well as Premiership high flyers Saracens.

Castres was eliminated from the European Champions Cup pool stages following a failure to win any of their four matches.

But they were able to push Premiership champions Harlequins very close on two occasions. losing 20-18 at homeDec., Alex Dombrandt denied him a win at The Stoop. 36-33 defeat in January.

They are currently fourth among the Top 14 and have Ben Botica (ex-Harlequins) as fly-half.

Declan Kidney, London's director of rugby in Ireland, spoke to BBC Radio London

Castres is a legend in boxing. I have had the pleasure of meeting them in many matches.

“It is true they didn't win in the Champions Cup, however they did earn a lot of losing points without having a full roster.

“They'll make a tough opponent, and they're vying for the Top 14 honors. We know they'll be very strong.”

“I have nothing but respect and admiration for them. It will be a tremendous challenge. We believe that if we play our game with accuracy, discipline and a sense of humor, we can challenge anyone.

London Irish Parton; Rowe, Rona, van Rensburg, Hassell-Collins; Jackson, Phipps (capt); Goodrick-Clarke, Creevy, van der Merwe, Coleman, Simmons, Pearson, Gonzalez, O'Brien.

Replacements: Cornish, Gigena, Hoskins, Nott, Rogerson, White, Joseph, Arundell.

Castres: Larregain; Laveau, Aguillon, Botitu, Chabouni; Botica, Kockott (capt); Nostadt, Ngauamo, Tierney, Pieterse, Whetton, Kafatolu, Raisuqe, Ben Nicholas.

Replacements: Humber, Tichit, Guillamon, Jacquet, Kornath, Tukino, Arata, Le Brun.

Referee: Andrea Piardi (Ita).

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