Peter Richards makes welcome return to face HarlequinsBy Steve Williams
February 13, 2009
Scrum-Half Peter Richards returns to the London Irish bench for the Guinness Premiership derby against his old club Harlequins at Madejski Stadium tomorrow (2.30pm).
Richards has been out since the beginning of November with a wrist problem and will be a welcome addition to the line-up missing four regulars because of international duty and looking to complete a Premiership and Cup hat-trick over their neighbours.
No 1 scrum-half Paul Hodgson, lock Nick Kennedy, full-back Delon Armitage and centre Shane Geraghty are all with the England team in Cardiff.
Flanker Declan Danaher is also out, while skipper Bob Casey plays for Ireland A tonight.
With Kieron Roche injured the line-out responsibilities fall into the hands of Gary Johnson and James Hudson.
Never before have Irish been in a position where they have been supplying so many players to internationals teams.
And while it’s an honour, it is also stretching the small squad’s resources to the limits.
Irish are currently second in the Guinness Premiership table, a point behind Gloucester who have played the same amount of games.
Third-placed Sale Sharks are a point adrift of Irish, but do have a game in hand, while fourth-placed Bath are five points behind with two games in hand.
Irish press officer Paddy Lennon admitted: “This is a huge game, especially after the three away loses which really hurt everyone.
“Against Saracens we just didn’t play well, while we didn’t take our chances against Sale and we penalised ourselves out of the game at Gloucester.
“It doesn’t get any easier to put right as in the next few weeks we’ve got games against three of the form sides in the table and, unusually for us, we’ve got so many players away with the international squads.”
It’s expected that Alfredo Lalanne will start in the No 9 shirt, partnering Mike Catt, while in the back row they’ll at least welcome back openside Steffon Armitage after he was dropped by England this week.
London Irish: Hewat; Thompstone, Sevialli’i, Mapasua, Ojo; Catt , Lalanne; Dermody, Paice, Lea’aetoa; Johnson, Hudson; Thorpe, Armitage, Hala’Ufia. Reps: Buckland, Corbisiero, Fisher, Richards.