Preview: Gloucester v Leicester

Date published: September 1 2016

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Scotland centre Matt Scott will make his Premiership debut as Gloucester name their side for the season opener against Leicester on Friday.

Scott will take his place in a starting line-up which features ten full internationals and which will be led by his Test colleague and captain Greig Laidlaw.

Billy Burns gets the nod at fly-half and may well be lining up against older brother Freddie, formerly of Gloucester and now with the Tigers.

The two encounters between the two sides last were decided by a combined total of just six points and director of rugby David Humphreys is expecting a tough challenge against one of the league's most consistent performers.

"This weekend against probably the most consistent team in Premiership history in terms of being in the play-offs at the end of season, Leicester are a good gauge for anybody," he said.

"So, for us, it's a big test but we're happy with where we are. We've done well in preseason, we feel we've done well in the past two games. But now it's all about getting out there and producing a big performance which results in a win."

And Humphreys admitted that selection this week has been challenging, which is a welcome problem to have.

"That's what you want. Sometimes you talk to people and they say, 'Oh, you've got a big decision to make'. But with the good teams, the big squads, you've got decisions to make every week," he added.

"That's what we're striving to get towards. We want that depth of squad that means that, when we sit down as a management team to pick the team for that weekend, there's a discussion around every position."

Meanwhile, Leicester Tigers will give club debuts to new signings JP Pietersen and Luke Hamilton in their opening game of the Premiership season.

World Cup winner Pietersen is named on the wing, with Hamilton in the back-row as Tigers and Gloucester set the ball rolling in the league's curtain-raiser at Kingsholm.

Another summer arrival, hooker George McGuigan, is included among the replacements alongside England international props Dan Cole and Ellis Genge, and scrum-half Ben Youngs.

Club captain Tom Youngs leads the team at Kingsholm, with Argentina international Marcos Ayerza starting at loosehead prop in his 11th season with the Tigers.

Pietersen joins fellow internationals Mathew Tait, Telusa Veainu, Peter Betham, Manu Tuilagi and Freddie Burns in the backline, while Sam Harrison returns to scrum-half after starting in the No10 shirt in the final pre-season fixture against the Ospreys last weekend.

Form: Gloucester's only win in their last six season opening encounters in Aviva Premiership Rugby came with their victory at Newcastle last year. Two of those round one fixtures were played at Kingsholm, losing to Northampton in 2012 and Sale in 2013. Gloucester have won just one of their last four matches at Kingsholm in all competitions: 16-9 over Exeter Chiefs in Aviva Premiership Rugby on 15th April. Leicester Tigers have secured an opening weekend victory in Premiership Rugby for the past four years. The Tigers only victory in their last seven away games was 30-24 at Northampton in round 20 last season. Gloucester have won only one of their last seven fixtures with Leicester: 33-16 at Kingsholm in Premiership Rugby in October 2014.

The teams:

Gloucester: 15 Tom Marshall, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Matt Scott, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Henry Purdy, 10 Billy Burns, 9 Greig Laidlaw (c), 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Ross Moriarty, 5 Mariano Galarza, 4 Tom Savage, 3 John Afoa, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Yann Thomas
Replacements: 16 Darren Dawidiuk, 17 Paddy McAllister, 18 Paul Doran-Jones, 19 Joe Latta, 20 Jacob Rowan, 21 Willi Heinz, 22 James Hook, 23 Gareth Evans

Leicester: 15 Mathew Tait, 14 Telusa Veainu, 13 Peter Betham, 12 Manusamoa Tuilagi, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Sam Harrison, 8 Lachlan McCaffrey, 7 Brendon O'Connor, 6 Luke Hamilton, 5 Dom Barrow, 4 Ed Slater, 3 Greg Bateman, 2 Tom Youngs (c), 1 Marcos Ayerza
Replacements: 16 George McGuigan, 17 Ellis Genge, 18 Dan Cole, 19 Graham Kitchener, 20 Will Evans, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 Matt Smith, 23 Adam Thompstone

Date: Friday, September 2
Venue: Kingsholm
Kick-off: 19:45 BST (18:45 GMT)
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant Referees: Ian Tempest, Peter Allan
TMO: David Grashoff

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