Fly-half Owen Williams will make his first competitive start for Gloucester as they make four changes to their starting line-up to take on Northampton Saints at Kingsholm on Saturday (kick off 3pm).
Williams made his first appearance for the Cherry and Whites as a replacement in the defeat at Sale last Friday evening, and will wear the number ten shirt in the only change in the backs.
The other three changes are up front where John Afoa, Tom Savage and Jacob Rowan return to the starting line-up in place of Gareth Denman, Jeremy Thrush and Freddie Clarke respectively.
After a rough start to the season with an opening day defeat against Saracens, the Saints have hit their straps in recent weeks and roared to the top of the Aviva Premiership table, a fact not lost upon Backs Coach Tim Taylor.
“Saints have been excellent over the past few weeks. They started with a bit of a drubbing in their first game but they’ve bounced back very well. You look at the way they play, they’re quite accurate in everything they do, good set-piece and good defence.
“They’ve also got a good back line so we’ve had a big focus on defence this week. It’s going to be a very tough match but the boys have a good mindset and we’re looking forward to putting our game plan into action.”
And Taylor insists that the Cherry and Whites have worked hard in training this week to right the wrongs of last Friday.
“We were obviously all very disappointed with the outcome and with the way we played. We’ve had a good week. We’ve looked at ourselves hard and know where we want to improve and how to get better. We’re looking forward to getting back out there on Saturday and putting in a performance.
“What Sale did was execute their turnover attack really well and take their chances. They took their opportunities when they had them and we didn’t. We kept the ball well for stages but, when we got into the final third, we didn’t hold on to it at crucial times. That’s where we need to get better.”
15. Jason Woodward; 14. Henry Purdy, 13. Henry Trinder, 12. Billy Twelvetrees, 11. David Halaifonua; 10. Owen Williams, 9. Willi Heinz (capt); 1. Val Rapava Ruskin, 2. Richard Hibbard, 3. John Afoa; 4. Tom Savage, 5. Ed Slater; 6. Lewis Ludlow, 7. Jacob Rowan, 8. Ruan Ackermann
16. Motu Matu’u, 17. Josh Hohneck, 18. Gareth Denman, 19. Jeremy Thrush, 20. Freddie Clarke, 21. Ben Vellacott, 22. Billy Burns, 23. Tom Hudson
Unavailable for selection:
Mark Atkinson, Fraser Balmain, Tom Denton, Gareth Evans, Lloyd Evans, Mariano Galarza, Tom Marshall, Ben Morgan, Ross Moriarty, Matt Scott, Charlie Sharples, Andy Symons, Ollie Thorley