Gloucester Rugby name side for Gallagher Premiership opener against Northampton Saints
Gloucester Rugby kick off their 2018-19 Gallagher Premiership Rugby season with a home fixture against Northampton Saints at Kingsholm (kick off 2pm). Matt Banahan and Danny Cipriani will make their first competitive starts for the Cherry and Whites.
The Cherry and Whites come into Saturday’s season opener on the back of preseason friendly victories over Ulster Rugby and the Dragons, although the Northampton Saints will be a far different proposition with league points at stake.
Banahan and Cipriani are joined as newcomers in the matchday squad by hooker Franco Marais, who is named amongst the replacements, in a Gloucester Rugby side skippered by Ed Slater.
With the hard work of preseason behind them, Head Coach Johan Ackermann is pleased that the start of the season is almost here.
“I’m massively excited. Preseason has flown by, but it’s great to be on the verge of the new Gallagher Premiership competition and the players are itching to get going. Hopefully a lot of the hard work will pay off, starting this weekend.
“I can compliment the players on their commitment to their training this summer, they never complained and always kept giving their best even when they were tired. For me, it was good to be involved with the whole of preseason unlike last summer and involved with everything.
“I feel the players are in a good place, the new arrivals slotted in nicely and fitted into the culture and the values we’re looking to instill. It’s great that everyone’s on the same page ahead of the start of the season.”
It will be a new look Northampton Saints side that comes to Kingsholm, changes on and off the field, but they will be a tough proposition says Ackermann.
“They’ve been a very good side over the past few seasons and they’ve done well. If you look at their forwards, it’s going to be a massive pack. They’ve also got quality at the back, they’ve made sure they’ve recruited international players.
“They’ll bring a new flavour as there’s a new coach who is going to bring in new ideas and new philosophies. They were clinical and physical in their warm-up games so it’s going to be a massive challenge.”
15. Jason Woodward; 14. Charlie Sharples, 13. Henry Trinder, 12. Billy Twelvetrees, 11. Matt Banahan; 10. Danny Cipriani, 9. Callum Braley 1. Val Rapava Ruskin, 2. James Hanson, 3. Fraser Balmain; 4. Ed Slater (capt), 5. Mariano Galarza; 6. Ruan Ackermann, 7. Lewis Ludlow, 8. Ben Morgan
16. Franco Marais, 17. Josh Hohneck, 18. Ciaran Knight, 19. Freddie Clarke, 20. Jake Polledri, 21. Ben Vellacott, 22. Tom Hudson, 23. Owen Williams
Unavailable for selection:
Ruan Dreyer, Willi Heinz, Jaco Kriel, Tom Marshall, Paddy McAllister, Tom Savage, Ollie Thorley