TOP BAR - Fixtures

Laidlaw returns to skipper Gloucester Rugby

Laidlaw returns to skipper Gloucester Rugby

Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw returns to skipper Gloucester Rugby in the European Rugby Challenge Cup at Worcester Warriors on Thursday evening in a side that sees centre Henry Trinder start his first game of the season.

Laidlaw will lead a side that sees only Sione Kalamafoni retained in the starting line-up from the team that defeated Sale Sharks at Kingsholm last Friday evening. The Scotland international scrum-half will partner Billy Burns at half-back.

Meanwhile Trinder, who has started two A League games and featured as a replacement twice for the first team in recent weeks, will start a game for the first time since February. He lines up outside Mark Atkinson in the Gloucester midfield.

Completing the backline are wingers David Halaifonua and Henry Purdy and full-back Steve McColl, who has already scored two tries in the tournament.

Up front, Nick Wood makes his first start of the season having appeared as a replacement against Sale and he will pack down alongside Tom Lindsay and Paul Doran-Jones.

In the second row, Elliott Stooke is named along with Mariano Galarza who signed a new contract with the club this week while the back row consists of Kalamafoni, Jacob Rowan and Lewis Ludlow.

Gloucester lead the pool with two wins from two matches, while the Warriors were defeated by Zebre in Parma. However, previewing the game with the local media this week, Head Coach Laurie Fisher insisted that Gloucester are focusing on only the next game and not the state of the pool in general.

"You can't analyse the group after only two games. The only thing we can do is turn up to Sixways on Thursday night, play well and win the game. Then return to Kingsholm the following week, play well and win the game.

"In terms of the permutations or whatever, it's irrelevant really. It's one game at a time, play well, get your result, move on."

And Fisher knows that Worcester will pose a threat no matter who takes the field on Thursday evening.

"You only have to look at the competitiveness of Worcester for long periods against Leicester last weekend to show what a quality side they are. They're well coached, well organised, very combative.

"You have to prepare well, get your attitude right, turn up on the day with the right intensity, the right level of physicality and give yourself a chance of winning.”

Gloucester Rugby:

15 Steve McColl; 14 David Halaifonua, 13 Henry Trinder, 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 Henry Purdy; 10 Billy Burns, 9 Greig Laidlaw (capt); 1 Nick Wood, 2 Tom Lindsay, 3 Paul Doran-Jones; 4 Elliott Stooke, 5 Mariano Galarza; 6 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Jacob Rowan, 8 Lewis Ludlow

Replacements:

16 Darren Dawidiuk, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 Nicky Thomas, 19 Tom Hicks, 20 Dan Thomas, 21 Callum Braley, 22 Billy Twelvetrees, 23 Rob Cook

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