Preview: Gloucester v Ospreys

Date published: January 30 2015

Aled Thomas will skipper Gloucester against the Ospreys at Kingsholm on Saturday, leading a side that features some of the club’s brightest young talent.

Thomas will captain the side from full-back, in a back line that features a trio of 2014 Junior World Cup winners in Billy Burns, Callum Braley and Henry Purdy.

Meanwhile, featuring on the wings are 21-year-old Steph Reynolds and 18-year-old Ollie Thorley, who became the youngest player to play for the first team in the professional era when he played the full 80 minutes in the LV= Cup fixture at Northampton Saints in November 2013.

The pack features more first team experience from the likes of Darren Dawidiuk, Dan Murphy and Sila Puafisi in the front row and Elliott Stooke at lock, while there is a welcome return for Jacob Rowan in the back row.

On media duty this week was backs and attack Nick Walshe, and he insisted that Saturday’s game has significance for a number of reasons.

“This competition is important to the club and it gives the younger guys a chance to stake a claim, get some experience and show everyone what they can do,” said Walshe.

“I think it’s a brilliant competition for the young players. They’ll be playing in front of a big crowd on Saturday at Kingsholm – what more could you want?

“There is that developmental angle, but we’ve prepared all week to perform and go out there and get a win. This game is as important as any other. We want to take the game to the Ospreys and keep this winning run going.

“Saracens are leading the group, and we’d need them to slip up. But we’re just concentrating on ourselves, trying to put in two good performances and get two wins and then we’ll see where we are.”

Meanwhile, Jonathan Spratt will captain the Ospreys from outside centre for their visit to Kingsholm.

“This is the start of a very busy and hugely important period for us. We have players away on international duty so we have to look at the ones coming into the squad over the next couple of months to step up and take what is great opportunity for them to shine in an Ospreys shirt,” said Ospreys head coach Steve Tandy.

“Traditionally, we’ve seen relatively unknown youngsters really come to public attention during this time of year, people like Tipuric, King, Smith and Baldwin, who have come through our development pathway and used the opportunity to really kick on as players. We need some of the next generation to make a similar impact now that they are going to get their chance in the jersey.”

The teams:

Gloucester: 15 Aled Thomas (c), 14 Steph Reynolds, 13 Henry Purdy, 12 Bill Meakes, 11 Ollie Thorley, 10 Billy Burns, 9 Callum Braley, 8 Ross Moriarty, 7 Jacob Rowan, 6 Dan Thomas, 5 Tom Hicks, 4 Elliot Stooke, 3 Sila Puafisi, 2 Darren Dawidiuk, 1 Dan Murphy
Replacements: 16 Aleki Lutui, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 Shaun Knight, 19 Joe Batley, 20 Lewis Ludlow, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Elliott Creed, 23 Kai Little

Ospreys: 15 Richard Fussell, 14 Tom Grabham, 13 Jonathan Spratt (c), 12 Ben John, 11 Dafydd Howells, 10 Sam Davies, 9 Tom Habberfield, 8 Morgan Allen, 7 Ieuan Jones, 6 Olly Cracknell, 5 Tevita Cavubati, 4 Rynier Bernardo, 3 Daniel Suter, 2 Scott Otten, 1 Gareth Thomas
Replacements: 16 Matthew Dwyer, 17 Tom Sloan, 18 Cai Griffiths, 19 Rhodri Hughes, 20 Ifereimi Boladau, 21 Martin Roberts, 22 Joe Thomas, 23 Aisea Natoga

Date: Saturday, January 31
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Venue: Kingsholm
Referee: Andrew Jackson (England)
Assistant referees: Darren Gamage (England), Kelvin Stewart (England)
Timekeeper: Laurie Bryant (England)