It’s a much-changed Gloucester Rugby starting line-up for Thursday evening’s European Rugby Challenge Cup fixture away at Pau, with a couple of youngsters making their first European appearances for the club.
Only half a dozen players remain from the starting line-up from last Saturday’s 29-24 victory over Northampton – Tom Savage, Jacob Rowan, Owen Williams, David Halaifonua, Billy Twelvetrees and Henry Purdy. Savage will skipper the side.
There is a full debut for flanker Jake Polledri, while Tom Hudson will make his first European appearance for the club.
However, there is still an experienced spine to the side and a strong group of replacements which sees Australian international hooker James Hanson named in the first team squad for the first time.
Previewing the game with the media this week, Head Coach Johan Ackermann admitted that European competition is a bit of a step into the unknown for him personally but one that he is looking forward to.
“I obviously don’t know much about the competition, but I watched it last year with Gloucester going all the way to the final. I know we’ve got a good record in the competition. But I’m excited as it’s bringing a new challenge and going to new places that you haven’t seen.
“We will have a lot of good spirit and positive energy after Saturday, as well as confidence I hope. As I say, it’s a new challenge for me personally as I haven’t coached in France before, and we’re also looking to change a few players but we’ll go with a positive mindset.
“It’s up to us. We have to recover well after Saturday, travel down there and play to our standards and look after ourselves before we worry about them too much.
“They’re a big side but also have some quality internationals, the likes of Conrad Smith etc. We may change some personnel but we have to get better in the style we play. Having analysed Saturday, there are still areas where we can improve.”
15. Tom Hudson; 14. Henry Purdy, 13. Billy Twelvetrees, 12. Mark Atkinson, 11. David Halaifonua; 10. Owen Williams, 9. Callum Braley; 1. Paddy McAllister, 2. Motu Matu’u, 3. Josh Hohneck; 4. Tom Savage (capt), 5. Tom Denton; 6. Jake Polledri, 7. Jacob Rowan, 8. Freddie Clarke
16. James Hanson, 17. Val Rapava Ruskin, 18. Gareth Denman, 19. Ruan Ackermann, 20. Lewis Ludlow, 21. Ben Vellacott, 22. Billy Burns, 23. Henry Trinder