After missing the past four matches, Willi Heinz returns to captain Gloucester Rugby with the Leicester Tigers the visitors to Kingsholm in the Aviva Premiership on Saturday (kick off 2:30pm).
After European Rugby Challenge Cup and Anglo-Welsh Cup action over the past four weeks, it’s back to domestic duties and the Aviva Premiership for the Cherry and Whites.
Heinz returns to lead a side which features none of the starting line-up from last Saturday’s Anglo-Welsh-Cup fixture away at Newcastle.
Gloucester are currently in fourth place in the Aviva Premiership table and are six points ahead of the eighth-placed Tigers. So, a home win would extend that gap, but Leicester were triumphant in the two previous meetings this season, both at Welford Road.
Head Coach Johan Ackermann acknowledged this week that it’s the first of an important block of matches, and that Leicester missing a few players on international duty won’t make much of a difference to the overall strength of the Tigers.
“We played them early in the season, not long after I arrived. That particular day we made a lot of simple errors. A few months later, I think both teams have developed, there have been some changes in personnel etc.
“It’s a block of four games and it’s important that we don’t fall into the trap of targetting games or putting more emphasis on one game over another. When we had a good run before Christmas, we only focused on the next training session, the next game.
“The quality they have in their squad is still such that the can beat any side. We also went through a period when we had a lot of players unavailable, and we actually did really well.
“They’re missing four players out of a squad of 30 plus players. They’ll have planned for that and prepared for that. They’re missing world-class players, but we can’t think that will do the job for us. Whoever comes in will be good enough, they wouldn’t be at the Tigers otherwise.”
15. Jason Woodward; 14. Tom Marshall, 13. Henry Trinder, 12. Billy Twelvetrees, 11. Ollie Thorley; 10. Billy Burns, 9. Willi Heinz (capt); 1. Josh Hohneck, 2. James Hanson, 3. John Afoa; 4. Tom Savage, 5. Mariano Galarza; 6. Jake Polledri, 7. Lewis Ludlow, 8. Ruan Ackermann
16. Motu Matu’u, 17. Cameron Orr, 18. Fraser Balmain, 19. Ed Slater, 20. Freddie Clarke, 21. Ben Vellacott, 22. Mark Atkinson, 23. Matt Scott
Unavailable for selection:
Val Rapava Ruskin, Jacob Rowan, Charlie Sharples, Andy Symons