TOP BAR - Fixtures

Wood to set new Gloucester record at Worcester on Saturday

Nick Wood will play his 274th competitive appearance and 200th Premiership outing when he takes the field for Gloucester in the Aviva Premiership at Worcester Warriors on Saturday afternoon.

The loosehead prop will break Peter Buxton's record for competitive appearances in the professional era, as well as becoming the first Gloucester player to make 200 Premiership appearances.

Wood's return is one of three changes to the starting line-up that defeated Wasps at Kingsholm last weekend as he replaces the injured Paddy McAllister.

Also restored to the starting line-up are scrum-half Willi Heinz and winger David Halaifonua. They replace Greig Laidlaw (Scotland international duty) and Henry Purdy (injury) respectively.

The two teams meet for the fourth time this season, with Gloucester having won the first three encounters. The Cherry and Whites are also looking for their third Aviva Premiership victory in succession.

However, Defence Coach Jonny Bell told the local media that Gloucester are prepared to take on a Warriors outfit which is much improved from the last time they met.

"We know that we're up against a formidable opponent. I've analysed Worcester in detail and, from a defensive perspective, they have huge threats across the park.

"They're fresh off a good win away to a good side in Newcastle, so they'll be buoyant and they'll want to deliver at home this weekend. We know that we have to pitch up with our minds in the right place because this is going to be a really tough game.

"In a league that is particularly competitive, you need consistency because, if you drop a couple of games, you could find yourself well down the league. But I believe we are getting there in terms of consistency and the challenge this weekend is to front up and prove that this weekend.

"I would say they're definitely better. I would say that we're better. I think every team has improved. They've got a dangerous back three, a strong pack up front and a nice midfield who can play with the ball. They know how to get across the whitewash and it's our job to prevent that happening."

Gloucester Rugby:

15. Rob Cook; 14. Charlie Sharples, 13. Bill Meakes, 12. Billy Twelvetrees (capt), 11. David Halaifonua; 10. James Hook, 9. Willi Heinz; 1. Nick Wood, 2. Richard Hibbard, 3. John Afoa; 4. Tom Savage, 5. Jeremy Thrush; 6. Sione Kalamafoni, 7. Matt Kvesic, 8. Ross Moriarty

Replacements:
16. Darren Dawidiuk, 17. Yann Thomas, 18. Paul Doran-Jones, 19. Mariano Galarza, 20. Lewis Ludlow, 21. Callum Braley, 22. Henry Trinder, 23. Steve McColl
 

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