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Burnell overhauls starting line up

London Welsh have reacted to their 11-try collapse at Saracens by overhauling their side for Friday's Aviva Premiership visit to London Irish.

Head coach Justin Burnell has made seven changes after the Exiles, doomed to relegation with a solitary bonus point from 10 league outings, were crushed 78-7 by the title challengers.

Captain Tom May returns at outside centre as part of the team surgery and while last weekend's result was the low point in a season of toil, Burnell insists the psychological damage inflicted at Allianz Park has already been repaired.

"The Saracens defeat was very disappointing and there was a lot of heartache on Monday morning when we came in to review the game," Burnell said.

"But in true London Welsh fashion the heads were soon back up. We've had a good week's training and now we're really looking forward to Friday's game against London Irish."

Irish, who occupy 11th place but are 11 points above Welsh, are looking to bounce back from their comprehensive 48-16 defeat at Wasps on Sunday with director of rugby Brian Smith insisting speculation over his future is not distracting his players.

"At this time of year players are asking 'what's so and so player doing?'. The same goes with coaches," Smith said.

"I've been linked with the Queensland Reds since James O'Connor joined us so it's not unusual. We're a resilient group. It's not throwing anyone off the task in hand.

"What happens next season is a long, long way away. A week is a long time in rugby. It's not having an effect."

Irish have made five changes, among them Chris Noakes starting at fly-half with Shane Geraghty moving to inside centre.


From Belfast Telegraph