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Motu Matu’u to make first Gloucester Rugby start against Benetton Treviso

Greig Laidlaw returns for Gloucester. Pic: Getty

Summer signing Motu Matu’u will make his full Gloucester debut after two replacement appearances when he starts against Benetton Treviso in the European Rugby Challenge Cup at Kingsholm on Saturday.

Having arrived with an arm injury suffered while representing Samoa, Matu’u has worked his way back to fitness before featuring as a replacement away at Exeter and Bayonne. Saturday will be his full debut and his first appearance at Kingsholm.

Gloucester make eight changes to the side that triumphed 47-27 in the opening round of the tournament in Bayonne last Saturday.

There are three changes in the backline. Charlie Sharples returns on the right wing having appeared as a replacement last weekend. And there is a new half-back pairing in Billy Burns and Greig Laidlaw, the latter also skippering the side once again.

Paddy McAllister, Matu’u and John Afoa make up a completely new front row and Matt Kvesic and Ross Moriarty return in the back row, with only Lewis Ludlow retained from the trio that started in France.

New signing Salesi Ma’afu is named amongst the replacements and there is a first appearance in a first team matchday squad for the Academy’s Freddie Clarke.

Defence Coach Jonny Bell told the local media that last week’s win in Bayonne was a welcome one but that Gloucester now have to back it up against Treviso at Kingsholm on Saturday (kick off 3pm).

“We were delighted to get the win, it’s something we were craving. It’s never easy to go and play in France and to come away with a pretty comprehensive win is great and boosts morale.

“There are obviously things we have to work on and we’re going to be tested this weekend against Treviso, who are very physical and who are going to come at us up front. We have to make sure we have all aspects of our game in place, with and without the ball.

“We just want a really strong, professional performance. We’ve got a duty to deliver for our fans at home. And for our own intrinsic motivation, we have to make sure that we deliver this weekend and get that victory.

“We must take each game as it comes and not look too far ahead. Moving from a good performance against Bayonne, making improvements and putting in a strong performance against Treviso will set us well going back into the Aviva Premiership.”

Gloucester Rugby: 15. James Hook; 14. Charlie Sharples, 13. Matt Scott, 12. Billy Twelvetrees, 11. Jonny May; 10. Billy Burns, 9. Greig Laidlaw (capt); 1. Paddy McAllister, 2. Motu Matu’u, 3. John Afoa; 4. Tom Savage, 5. Joe Latta; 6. Ross Moriarty, 7. Matt Kvesic, 8. Lewis Ludlow

Replacements: 16. Richard Hibbard, 17. Cameron Orr, 18. Salesi Ma’afu, 19. Freddie Clarke, 20. Jacob Rowan, 21. Callum Braley, 22. Mark Atkinson, 23. Ollie Thorley

Unavailable for selection: Josh Hohneck, Darren Dawidiuk, Tom Lindsay, Paul Doran-Jones, Jeremy Thrush, Tom Denton, Gareth Evans, Sione Kalamafoni, Willi Heinz, Andy Symons, Henry Trinder, Tom Marshall

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