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Bristol Rugby prop Mark Irish (pictured), after an impressive preseason, has got the nod to start only his second Guinness Premiership game against Bath on Sunday.
Irish, who spent all of last season on loan at Newbury Blues, last started a Premiership fixture at Leicester Tigers in the 2005-6 season but was widely acknowledged to be one of the top performing props in National League Division One in 2007-8 and started four out of five of Bristol’s recent preseason matches.
Bristol also name three players who will be making their Guinness Premiership debuts for the club in centre Junior Fatialofa, fly half Adrian Jarvis and second row Robert Sidoli.
Head Coach Richard Hill acknowledged that Bath are a tough team to face in the first game but that his team have prepared well.”
“Preseason has gone really well. Everyone has worked really hard and it’s certainly gone better than it did last season when it was well documented that we had a lot of changes on and off the field and were quite disrupted.”
“Bath is a great start for us. The crowd should be packed in there to create a great atmosphere which we’re looking forward to.”
“Traditionally Bath start and finish the season well so we’ll need to be on top of our game. They were probably the form side at the end of last season and playing a fantastic brand of rugby.”
“We’ll have to defend and defend in the opening 20 minutes. They will come out firing on all cylinders and it’ll be wave after wave. We need to hold out and not concede.”
And on his new signings:”Robert Sidoli comes in at lock. He’s a commanding figure and has brought a huge amount of experience and some different ideas with him.”
“Junior Fatialofa has made rapid strides and we have great confidence in him. Adrian Jarvis was in great form at Harlequins last season and has looked very calm and assured in preseason.”
Luke Arscott; Tom Arscott, Junior Fatialofa, Kevin Maggs, David Lemi; Adrian Jarvis, Haydn Thomas; Mark Irish, Scott Linklater, Jason Hobson; Nathan Budgett, Robert Sidoli; Andrew Blowers, Joe El Abd (capt), Dan Ward-Smith
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