Preview – London Irish v Bath

England players Danny Grewcock and Lee Mears will both be starting for Bath against London Irish in the Guinness Premiership on Saturday, despite England coach Brian Ashton’s plea to have the players rested ahead of the Six Nations match against Ireland.

Bath coach Steve Meehan confirmed on Thursday that both players would start the game, although the team was not due to be named until Friday.

“Danny Grewcock will start against London Irish and so too will Lee Mears,” said Meehan.

“Rob Andrew called me to spell out England’s position earlier this week and he said the same things to me that he has been saying publicly about the situation.

“The decision about whether we play Grewcock and Mears against London Irish this weekend was left to us and to the players,” said Meehan.

“We’re dealing with a situation which is rooted in the way things have been organised between the clubs and England in the past.

“That might all change sometime, but that’s an issue for the administrators, not the coaches, to sort out.

“At club level, coaches merely try to put out the strongest side they can for any given game to reflect the fact that the Guinness Premiership is a very important competition.

“We have done everything we can in ours and Danny Grewcock’s best interests. He didn’t train with us Monday or Tuesday, so he has had some rest.

“Lee Mears is in a different situation entirely because he didn’t start England’s games against Scotland or Italy, so he needs competitive rugby this weekend.”

Bath’s three-week break has been affected by both weather and illness within the squad, and the team has not had the ideal build-up to the match.

“We’re going into the Irish game after a lengthy break – the players had the first week to themselves with fitness programmes to look after themselves,” continued Meehan.

“Since they came back, the weather has restricted the flow of our training and there has been a bit of illness in the squad and one or two knocks to contend with.

“Time will tell whether the break has been a good thing for us, coming as it did just after we had run into some good form.”

Form: London Irish have lost their last four matches in all competitions, but at home in the Guinness Premiership the Exiles have won back to back matches against Northampton and Leicester. Bath Rugby have won their last three games against Connacht, Montpellier and Harlequins, but away from home in the Premiership, Bath remain the only club without a win on the road this campaign. London Irish have won their last three clashes against Bath including a 21-17 victory at the Rec in the Premiership on 4 November. Bath have visited Madejski Stadium on eight previous occasions against all opponents in all competitions and have lost just three times.

London Irish: tbc

Bath: tbc

Date: Saturday, February 17
Venue: Madejski Stadium
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Referee: Chris White
Touch judges: Wayne Barnes, Ken Stewart
Assessor: Ed Morrison
Television match official: Brian Abrahams

365 Digital

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