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Dan Thomas to make first Premiership start against London Irish

With London Irish the visitors to Kingsholm on Saturday (kick off 3pm), flanker Dan Thomas will make his first start in the Aviva Premiership for Gloucester Rugby as one of six changes from the team that started against Edinburgh last weekend.

Gloucester, of course, lifted the European Rugby Challenge Cup at the Twickenham Stoop with victory last Friday evening, but the focus is now well and truly on the final two rounds of the Aviva Premiership season.

Thomas replaces Ross Moriarty who is suspended following an independent disciplinary hearing yesterday. Similarly, Brendan Macken comes in for Bill Meakes who is also suspended.

The Welsh flanker has been a standout performer for Hartpury in their National League One efforts this season, but shone during Gloucester's LV= Cup campaign, scoring two tries and picking up a Man of the Match award.

Yann Thomas and Sila Puafisi will form a new look front row, packing down alongside hooker Richard Hibbard while Mariano Galarza, who replaced Tom Palmer at half time at the Stoop, gets the start this week.

The one other change sees Billy Burns get the nod at fly half in place of James Hook.

Gloucester come into the game having won four out of their last five games, and are unbeaten at Kingsholm in 2015, however Laurie Fisher insisted that Gloucester need to be wary of the threat that the Exiles pose when he spoke to the local media this week.

"It's an important game against a team that's one position below us and has won one fewer game than us. I expect it's going to be a close game. You saw how Newcastle were able to challenge us last time we were at home.

"Their motivation is probably similar to ours. Neither of us can make top four or top six, but it's a Premiership game, we're at home and we want to put in a performance in front of our own supporters.

"Irish will be motivated. I'm not expecting them to put the season over signs up just yet. Their first 40 minutes against Bath recently was very combative and I'd expect nothing less at the weekend."

Gloucester Rugby:

Charlie Sharples; Jonny May, Brendan Macken, Billy Twelvetrees (capt), Henry Purdy; Billy Burns, Greig Laidlaw; Yann Thomas, Richard Hibbard, Sila Puafisi; Tom Savage, Mariano Galarza; Dan Thomas, Matt Kvesic, Gareth Evans

Replacements:

Darren Dawidiuk, Nick Wood, Shaun Knight, Elliott Stooke, James Hudson, Callum Braley, James Hook, Steve McColl

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