Preview: Bath v Montpellier

Date published: December 12 2014

Springbok flanker Francois Louw will make his first appearance of the season for Bath in Friday’s clash with Montpellier at The Recreation Ground, while Sam Burgess makes his first start for the club.

Louw comes straight into the back row for the European Rugby Champions Cup clash after being injured on international duty in September.

He lines-up alongside Leroy Houston and Alafoti Fa’osiliva, who made his comeback from injury last Friday.

Three returning internationals come into the pack. Dave Attwood joins Dominic Day in the second row, and David Wilson and Paul James scrum down either side of Ross Batty. James will captain the side.

Burgess takes his place in the midfield alongside Jonathan Joseph with Semesa Rokoduguni and Matt Banahan providing the threats out wide.

Anthony Watson continues at fullback, whilst George Ford and Chris Cook pull the strings from the half-back positions.

Rugby league convert Burgess came on as a second half replacement for Kyle Eastmond in Bath’s 30-5 victory in the corresponding fixture in Montpelllier last weekend.

Bath head coach Mike Ford believes Burgess can become his team’s enforcer.

“Sam getting more game time is a massive bonus for us,” said Ford.

“He’s going to be our enforcer, with the way he defends. We’re pleased where he is.

“It’s a bit disappointing that it has been raining in both games he came on because we didn’t have much chance to use him. But what he’s done, he’s done well so far.”

First-team coach Toby Booth is excited to see how Burgess performs in his first start.

“The best way for Sam to learn is by getting out there,” he said.

” But it is not just about Sam, it is about what is best for Bath.

“We know from last weekend that he will bring plenty of physicality, and it will be good for our game-plan to have that.

“It’s a strategic decision to get him out there for more minutes.”

Meanwhile, Montpellier welcome back scrum-half Jonathan Pelissi