Rob Lewis will fill the vacancy at scrum half left by the departure of Piri Weepu for London Welsh’s Aviva Premiership bottom-of-the-table clash with London Irish at Oxford’s Kassam Stadium today (2.30).

New Zealand World Cup winner Weepu has been released from his contract with struggling Welsh and will join up with the Wasps squad for the remainder of the 2014-15 campaign, ahead of his move to French club Oyonnax next season.

Lewis is one of seven changes as Welsh seek to record their first win of a wretched season.

In the backs, Nick Scott returns on the left wing, James Lewis starts at outside centre, with Nic Reynolds named among the replacements.

Up front, Jack Gilding starts at tight head prop, club captain Matt Corker returns to the second row and Opeti Fonua takes the No 8 jersey, with Ben Pienaar moving to blindside flanker.

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Welsh must get off to a fast start against second-bottom Irish, says defence coach Rowland Phillips.

Phillips said: “That first score is important whether it be a penalty or try, just to get the ball rolling, and this team has got the ability to do that.”

He added: “We have got to focus on creating, executing and finishing.”

Irish makes four changes with props Matt Parr and Leo Halavatau starting, while Nic Rouse comes into the second row.

James Short starts on the wing for Topsy Ojo, who was injured last week.


London Welsh: Kear, Stegmann, Lewis, Tincknell, Scott, Robinson, Lewis, Aholelei, Elloway, Gilding, Schofield, Corker (capt), Pienaar, Kirwan, Fonua. Reps: Morris, Trevett, Vea, Down, Thorpe, Davies, Barkley, Reynolds.

London Irish: Fenby, Lewington, Fowlie, Sheridan, Short, Geraghty, Steele, Parr, Halavatau, Skivington (capt), Rouse, Treviranus, Gilsenan, Guest. Reps: Stevens, Court, Palframan, Sinclair, Narraway, Allinson, Noake, Griffin.