Gloucester Rugby won’t be distracted by Danny Cipriani’s creativity when Sale Sharks visit Kingsholm on Friday night, according to Billy Meakes.
Sale arrive in the West Country with a run of seven straight Aviva Premiership Rugby defeats on the road, a run that stretches back to February.
They face a Gloucester side struggling for tries – it is 180 minutes since David Halaifonua crossed over against Worcester Warriors – and Meakes is eager to ensure that comes to a swift end.
However, the Australian-born centre has urged his side not to get carried away working out how to keep talismanic fly-half Cipriani quiet.
“He’s a big part of their game and the way they play but that’s not taking anything away from the 14 other guys on the pitch,” said Meakes. “They have got an extremely physical set piece and we are not taking this lightly at all.
“Cipriani has got a big bag of tricks and we have certainly talked about that this week. Whilst we are not trying to focus on him too much, we will obviously have to keep an eye out for him and what he brings to the table.
“Sam Tuitupou is a fantastic player and extremely physical and that’s just another job for the boys in the centres to deal with and, at the same time, keep an eye on Cipriani.
“It’s a home game and we are in a good place but there’s no hiding from the fact that Sale finished on top of us last season and they are an extremely good team.”
Gloucester’s two victories this season in Aviva Premiership Rugby were away to Newcastle Falcons in round 1 and at home to Worcester Warriors in round 3.
Sale Sharks have also won just two Aviva Premiership Rugby games this season, both at home to Worcester and Northampton Saints in rounds 2 and 3.
Each side won its respective home game when the two teams clashed last season, while Sale have won on two of their most recent four visits to Kingsholm.
And back-rower TJ Ioane admits they face a tough test in picking up another scalp in Gloucester.
“We’re going to go to Gloucester and put our best foot forward,” he said.
“There’ll be no excuses this week and no second best so hopefully we can go and do our job and come away with four points or get a bonus point which would be pretty nice. I think we can expect similar weather or a bit of drizzle but regardless of that we’ll look for a better performance.
“I know Thrushy (Jeremy Thrush) because he’s a Wellington boy and I see they have a few NZ boys. Jeremy and I grew up in the Wellington academy system then with the Hurricanes, though he was a senior lad while I was academy.
“He’s an experienced guy and does what all good locks do, so we’ll look to slow him down at the line out or hopefully not be in his way when he’s clearing rucks.”
Referee: JP Doyle (100th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Peter Huckle & Paul Dix. TMO: Stuart Terheege.
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