Gloucester Rugby give full debuts to eight players as they face Saracens in Saturday’s Anglo-Welsh Cup opener at Kingsholm (kick off 3pm), with the Academy’s brightest prospects making up the majority of the starting XV.
The Anglo-Welsh Cup has been very much positioned as a development competition in recent seasons, and Gloucester’s selection very much reflects that ethos with some exciting young talent wearing the Cherry and White for the very first time.
Most of the full debuts are in the pack, although the likes of Cameron Orr, Salesi Ma’afu and Freddie Clarke have all tasted first team action this season. Also making their first competitive starts are hooker Joe Mullis and locks Charlie Beckett and Joe Batley.
Lewis Ludlow will skipper the side in a back row that also features Dan Thomas who played all four LV= Cup games in 2014-15.
There is more experience in the backs, but there are first competitive starts for Lloyd Evans, try-scorer as a replacement against Northampton last season, and for Mat Protheroe at full-back.
Speaking to the local media this week, Forwards Coach Trevor Woodman stressed that it’s a big opportunity for the players on duty this weekend.
“It’s a great opportunity, obviously we didn’t have the competition last year due to the World Cup. But it’s been a tough eight weeks for the majority of the players and we haven’t changed too many in that period.
“So, a good opportunity for some of the guys to get away and have a rest and another good opportunity for the guys that have played a bit of A League and on dual registration with other clubs to come in and represent Gloucester.
“It’s great for those who have played a bit of first team to really show what they’re about and challenge the guys that have been starting week in, week out. It’s a chance to represent Gloucester and also play at Kingsholm, which we want to make somewhere very difficult for opposition to come and play at.
“We don’t know what side Saracens are going to bring. We’ve just got to focus on ourselves. We’ve had a couple of good training sessions, the boys are up for it, they’re looking forward to their opportunity to represent the club. It’s an exciting couple of weeks to see what young talent we have coming through for the future.”
15. Mat Protheroe; 14. David Halaifonua, 13. Henry Purdy, 12. Elliott Creed, 11. Ollie Thorley; 10. Lloyd Evans, 9. Callum Braley; 1. Cameron Orr, 2. Joe Mullis, 3. Salesi Ma’afu; 4. Charlie Beckett, 5. Joe Batley; 6. Freddie Clarke, 7. Dan Thomas, 8. Lewis Ludlow (capt)
16. Henry Walker, 17. Paul Doran-Jones, 18. Ciaran Knight, 19. Harry Wilson, 20. Will Safe, 21. Ben Vellacott, 22. Tom Hudson, 23. Harry Robinson