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London Welsh preview 2012/13

London Welsh will be out to prove their doubters wrong as they prepare for their maiden campaign.

Exiles out to prove their doubters wrong

Of all the promoted teams over the years the Exiles face the toughest task if they are to prove their long legal fight was worth it. Having had their initial application for promotion rejected, Welsh appealed the decision - and while they were ultimately successful, it has left them playing catch up in terms of putting together a squad capable of remaining in the top flight. It can be done, though, as Exeter proved two seasons ago - but the pressure will be on director of rugby Lyn Jones to harness that same spirit as shown by the Chiefs. Jones has brought in former Sale chief - and current Russia boss - Kingsley Jones in an advisory capacity to help prepare his troops, however the notable new addition has come on the field. Gavin Henson arrives with his fair share of baggage after a troubled few seasons - however Jones knows the enigmatic talent well, having helped bring the best out of the Lions international during their time together at the Ospreys. Former Wales and Ospreys team-mate Sonny Parker has also joined, while Tom Arscott, Daniel Browne, Ed Williamson, Paulica Ion and Neil Briggs add valuable top-flight experience. They will team up with the likes of Gordon Ross, Martin Purdy, Jonathan Mills and Hudson Tonga'uhia, while the responsibility of keeping the scoreboard ticking over will fall to Alex Davies. There are question marks, though, over how well the Exiles pack will cope, while, somewhat understandably, their squad could well be stretched as the season progresses.

London Welsh stats

Director of rugby: Lyn Jones
Captain: Jonathan Mills
Sky Bet odds: 500/1
Last season: Promoted from the RFU Championship
In: Gavin Henson (unattached), Tom Arscott (Worcester), Daniel Browne (Grenoble), Paulica Ion (loan, London Irish), Kirili Kulemi (Castres), Sonny Parker (Ospreys), Neil Briggs (Sale Sharks), Nick Runciman (Gloucester), Ed Williamson (Newcastle), Matt Keyte (Bath), Billy Moss (Bath), Nick Scott (Bath), Gareth Evans (Plymouth), Phil Mackenzie (Esher), Alfie To'oala (La Rochelle), Lewis Thiede (loan, London Wasps), Jonah Holmes (loan, London Wasps), Franck Montanella (Bourgoin), Arthur Joly (Bourgoin)
Out: Will Hurrell (Rotherham), Gary Johnson (Cornish Pirates), Robert Lewis (Cardiff Blues), Paul Mackey (Rosslyn Park), Mike Powell (Moseley), Tom French (released), Liam Gibson (released), Vili Ma'asi (released), Saul Nelson (Old Reds), Shawn Pittman (released), Guillermo Roan (released), Ben Russell (released), Ben Stevenson (released), Edd Thrower (released)
Key man - Gavin Henson: At his best, Henson is a world-class performer - and although it is a while since he has played at his best, the initial signs are encouraging.
Prediction: 12th

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