TOP BAR - Fixtures

May returns for Gloucester against Bayonne

Jonny May will make his return from injury when he lines up on the left wing for Gloucester in Bayonne, as the Cherry and Whites kick off their European Rugby Challenge Cup campaign in South-West France.

The England international winger has been absent since injuring his knee in Big Game Eight against Harlequins at Twickenham last December and his return is a welcome one.

He will wear the number 11 shirt with David Halaifonua moving across to the right wing in place of Charlie Sharples to accommodate him.

The only other change to the back line that started at Exeter last weekend sees Willi Heinz take over from Greig Laidlaw at scrum-half and also assume the captaincy.

In the pack, there are three changes from the unit that took the field at Sandy Park. Yann Thomas, Joe Latta and Lewis Ludlow come in for Paddy McAllister, Mariano Galarza and Ross Moriarty respectively.

Amongst the replacements, returning to the matchday 23 after a one-week absence is John Afoa.

Forwards coach Trevor Woodman, speaking to the local media before the team set off for France, admitted that playing away in France is always a challenge but that Gloucester know what they have to do.

“We’re doing some incredible stuff throughout a lot of these games – we got the emotional state right, we got the physicality right,” he said.

“What we didn’t get right was that last 10 to 15 minutes when we came under a lot of pressure that we created ourselves with back to back mistakes.

“It was disappointing to come away from Exeter with a draw and that’s pretty much been the story for the first six games really.

“We’ve had a good look at that and we have to make sure that we minimize those mistakes in that last quarter.

“We topped the pool in Europe in the last two years and we want to make sure that we top the pool again and get into the knockout stages with home draws. It’s a challenge and it’s an opportunity for a few people.

“It’s always tough when you go down to France. It’s a challenging environment that you go into with French crowds and stadiums.

“They’ve got some quality throughout their team and we have to make sure that we trust what we do, we trust our systems and make sure we don’t get carried away into that French flair and that sort of offloading game.

“You know when you go out there that French teams, forward packs particularly are big and physical.

“You have to shut them down first and foremost to make sure they don’t get their front foot game, their offloading game going. If we try and put out fires individually, it’ll be tough.”

Gloucester Rugby:

15. James Hook; 14. David Halaifonua, 13. Matt Scott, 12. Mark Atkinson, 11. Jonny May; 10. Billy Twelvetrees, 9. Willi Heinz (capt); 1. Yann Thomas, 2. Richard Hibbard, 3. Paul Doran-Jones; 4. Tom Savage, 5. Joe Latta; 6. Lewis Ludlow, 7. Jacob Rowan, 8. Ben Morgan

Replacements:

16. Motu Matu’u, 17. Cameron Orr, 18. John Afoa, 19. Mariano Galarza, 20. Matt Kvesic, 21. Callum Braley, 22. Ollie Thorley, 23. Charlie Sharples

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