Greig Laidlaw is back to skipper Gloucester Rugby in Saturday’s Aviva Premiership derby game against Bath Rugby at Kingsholm. James Hook will make his first start of the season at full-back and Billy Twelvetrees will make his 100th competitive appearance for the club.
The Cherry and Whites make four changes from the side that started against Newcastle Falcons last Saturday.
The return of Laidlaw, Hook and Twelvetrees are the three changes in the backs. Hook is in for the injured Tom Marshall, and Twelvetrees comes in for Matt Scott. Up front, Paddy McAllister replaces Yann Thomas at loosehead prop.
Matt Kvesic is named amongst the replacements having missed out against Newcastle due to a nasty cut to the face picked up at Sale and there is a first appearance in the matchday 23 this season for David Halaifonua.
Both teams are coming into the game off the back of a defeat and will be looking to get back to winning ways in a fixture that is one of the most keenly anticipated in the Aviva Premiership calendar.
Head Coach Laurie Fisher was on media duties this week and was clear on where Gloucester need to make improvements from last week.
“I think fundamentally that the shape of our game is sound. But, if you look at last weekend, we need to convert A Zone opportunities into points. That’s been one of the big work-ons for us this week.
“We’ve got to treasure the ball a little bit more, I think we were a little bit loose last week. The statistics would show that, in the three games where we’ve been above our target for acceptable turnovers, we’ve either lost or drawn. The one game where we were under our target figure, we won.
“So, it’s a reasonably clear picture that we’ve got to be more careful with the ball. I think we probably need to change the structure of our game when we get into the attacking 22 to consolidate possession, ramp up our physicality and find different ways of getting the ball over the line.”
“We don’t need to gee up the boys for the Bath game, we don’t need to gee them for any game. But certainly the Bath derby is massive in everybody’s mindset whether you’re a Gloucester supporter or a Gloucester player.
“It’s very high on the list of super-important things this year and the guys are really looking forward to it.”
15. James Hook; 14. Charlie Sharples, 13. Billy Twelvetrees, 12. Mark Atkinson, 11. Henry Purdy; 10. Billy Burns, 9. Greig Laidlaw (capt); 1. Paddy McAllister, 2. Richard Hibbard, 3. John Afoa; 4. Tom Savage, 5. Mariano Galarza; 6. Ross Moriarty, 7. Jacob Rowan, 8. Ben Morgan
16. Darren Dawidiuk, 17. Yann Thomas, 18. Paul Doran-Jones, 19. Joe Latta, 20. Matt Kvesic, 21. Willi Heinz, 22. Matt Scott, 23. David Halaifonua
Unavailable for selection:
Sione Kalamafoni, Tom Lindsay, Tom Marshall, Motu Matu’u, Jonny May, Andy Symons, Ollie Thorley, Jeremy Thrush, Henry Trinder