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Rowan skippers Gloucester as they kick off their Challenge Cup defence

Jacob Rowan will skipper a new-look Gloucester Rugby side that will look to earn its stripes against Zebre at Kingsholm on Saturday afternoon.

All Black Jeremy Thrush will make his debut and centre Henry Trinder is named amongst the replacements. 

The Zebre fixture is the first of three matches that Gloucester will play in six days with the Barbarians coming to Kingsholm on Tuesday evening and the team then travelling to take on La Rochelle on Thursday evening.
 
As such, there are multiple changes to the side that started at Wasps last weekend with the squad set to be used to its fullest capacity over the next few days.
 
Rowan is no stranger to the captain’s armband, having skippered Yorkshire Carnegie with distinction for a number of seasons as well as England U20s.
 
The arrival of All Black Thrush is a welcome boost to a second row department that has been short of numbers in recent weeks due to injury and suspension.
 
And the return of Trinder to the matchday squad for the first time since February is terrific news. The centre has battled back from a succession of injuries and everyone will wish him well should he take the field.
 
It’s the second season in succession that Gloucester and Zebre face off in the group stages of the European Rugby Challenge Cup and director of rugby David Humphreys knows that the Italian side will provide stubborn opposition.
 
“The fact that they, over the course of the past month or so, have beaten Cardiff and Edinburgh shows that they have improved. They have recruited well and brought in some experienced international players," said Humphreys.
 
“As is always the case, it will be very competitive early on. We’ll have to keep our composure and be sensible with our decision making.
 
“The European Rugby Challenge Cup was an important competition for us last year and winning it was due reward for all the hard work that had gone in. 
 
“For us this is an opportunity to be the first club to retain the Challenge Cup. That’s what we’re looking to do but, in order to do that, a home quarter-final is important and we have to get off to a winning start.”
 
Gloucester Rugby: Rob Cook; Steve McColl, Bill Meakes, Mark Atkinson, Henry Purdy; Billy Burns, Callum Braley; Yann Thomas, Tom Lindsay, Paul Doran-Jones; Elliott Stooke, Jeremy Thrush; Ross Moriarty, Jacob Rowan (capt), Lewis Ludlow
Replacements: Darren Dawidiuk, Dan Murphy, Nicky Thomas, Tom Hicks, Dan Thomas, Greig Laidlaw, Henry Trinder, Ollie Thorley
 

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