Ed Slater will skipper Gloucester Rugby in Friday evening’s crucial European Rugby Challenge Cup match in Agen, the Cherry and Whites needing to win to keep pace with Pau at the top of the pool.
Slater leads a side which shows ten changes from the one that started at Northampton Saints last Saturday, with only Slater himself plus Jason Woodward, Henry Trinder, Owen Williams and Jake Polledri retaining their places.
Charlie Sharples and Henry Trinder are the only survivors from the last time Gloucester played in Agen, back in October 2010. Also in Cherry and White that day was Akapusi Qera, now with Agen. Meanwhile, Ross Moriarty is set to make his second start of the season.
Gloucester currently trail Pau by three points at the top of pool three, and know that they need to match what the French side do against Zebre this weekend to set up a ‘winner takes all’ game at Kingsholm next weekend.
But Assistant Coach Tim Taylor stressed this week that, on Friday evening, the focus will be completely on the job in hand in Agen.
“We’ll just go out and really concentrate on ourselves. We’ve had a massive focus on ourselves on where we can improve and go forward as a team as a squad. We’ll go out, worry about ourselves and, once we’ve got the job done over there, we’ll look elsewhere.
“Any French team at home is always very tough. I think they had a very good win against Castres at the weekend so you know it’s going to be a tough challenge on Friday night.
“The mindset as always will be to go out there and have a really strong start and push on from there. It’s important we’re accurate in what we do, get our processes right and everyone knows their roles and understands what we need to do to get a quick start.
“But I think the boys are raring to go, we’ve had a good week this week. We had a good hard session yesterday and we know where we need to improve and where we need to do better. So, we’re looking forward to going out there and putting it out there on the pitch.”
- Jason Woodward; 14. Charlie Sharples, 13. Henry Trinder, 12. Mark Atkinson, 11. Henry Purdy; 10. Owen Williams, 9. Callum Braley; 1. Cameron Orr, 2. Motu Matu’u, 3. Fraser Balmain; 4. Ed Slater (capt), 5. Jeremy Thrush; 6. Ross Moriarty, 7. Jake Polledri, 8. Freddie Clarke
- Richard Hibbard, 17. Josh Hohneck, 18. Gareth Denman, 19. Tom Savage, 20. Lewis Ludlow, 21. Ben Vellacott, 22. Billy Twelvetrees, 23. Tom Marshall
Unavailable for selection:
Tom Denton, Mariano Galarza, Willi Heinz, Paddy McAllister, Val Rapava Ruskin, Jacob Rowan, Matt Scott