Fresh off signing a new contract with the club this week, Willi Heinz will skipper Gloucester against Wasps on Saturday.
After the youthful looking line-ups that featured in the Anglo-Welsh Cup over the past fortnight, it’s a more familiar looking starting XV for the Cherry and Whites this weekend.
In fact, from the team that started against Northampton Saints at Franklin’s Gardens last weekend, only Billy Burns, Lewis Ludlow and Henry Purdy are retained.
Director of Rugby David Humphreys stressed that Gloucester are looking forward to taking on one of the Premiership’s in-form teams.
“Wasps have outstanding players and an outstanding coaching team. The players they’ve brought in this year have had a huge impact and didn’t take long to settle in and performed well right from the start,” he said.
“When you look at their team and the depth that they have, despite having some injuries and players away on international duty, they’ll still come very heavily loaded with quality rugby players.”
“They’re second in the Premiership, so it’ll be a huge test for us. But one that we’re really looking forward to. We’ve had a couple of weeks of Anglo-Welsh action which has allowed us to look at some of our younger players and give them an opportunity. But it has also allowed some of our players who have played a lot of minutes in those first Premiership games an opportunity to rest, recover and get themselves ready for what is going to be a huge run into Christmas.”
For Wasps Matt Mullan captains the side from the front row, where he is joined by Phil Swainston and Tommy Taylor, who returns to the club from England camp.
Packing down behind them will be Matt Symons and Kearnan Myall, while James Gaskell again lines up in the back row, alongside Thomas Young and Guy Thompson. Dan Robson and Danny Cipriani form the half back partnership, with Jimmy Gopperth and Kyle Eastmond combining in midfield. Rob Miller, Christian Wade and Josh Bassett form Wasps’ back three.
Ahead of the trip to Kingsholm, where Wasps narrowly lost out 13-10 last season, Director of Rugby Dai Young said: “I’m sure there’s going to be lots of talk down there about knocking us over on the weekend, like they did last year, and re-igniting their season. They’ve been unlucky in a few games this year and I think their luck is going to change soon, so we’re certainly wary of how good a team they are.
“It’s up to us to make sure we enforce our game plan and are accurate if we want to get the win. We were on a really good run when we went to Kingsholm last year, but lost the game and that was probably the one loss in some big games that was the difference between us finishing second or third in the table.
“Gloucester have a huge amount of pace and dangerous players in their backline and they have a really strong pack, with a good set piece. Their line speed is also really good so I’m sure they will try to stop us playing and they have a number of players who really like to attack the contact area.”
Form: Gloucester have won just once in the last eight rounds of the Premiership: 26-13 at Sale on September 16. The Cherry & Whites have slipped to four straight defeats at Kingsholm in the tournament but have never lost five in a row at home in the Premiership. Wasps solitary defeat in the Premiership this campaign was 14-30 at Saracens in round 6. Wasps have not won away from home in any tournament since beating Northampton 20-15 at Franklin’s Gardens on September 24. Gloucester’s 13-10 victory in this equivalent fixture last season ended a six game losing run to Wasps in the tournament. Wasps have won on three of their last ten visits to Kingsholm in the Premiership.
Gloucester: 15 James Hook, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Matt Scott, 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 Henry Purdy, 10 Billy Burns, 9 Willi Heinz (c), 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Jacob Rowan, 6 Lewis Ludlow, 5 Mariano Galarza, 4 Tom Savage, 3 John Afoa, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Paddy McAllister
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu’u, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 Josh Hohneck, 19 Joe Latta, 20 Matt Kvesic, 21 Callum Braley, 22 Mat Protheroe, 23 Ollie Thorley
Wasps: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Kyle Eastmond, 12 Jimmy Gopperth, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Guy Thompson, 7 Thomas Young, 6 James Gaskell, 5 Kearnan Myall, 4 Matt Symons, 3 Phil Swainston, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Matt Mullan (c)
Replacements: 16 Tom Cruse, 17 Tom Bristow, 18 Marty Moore, 19 Will Rowlands, 20 Ashley Johnson, 21 Joe Simpson, 22 Frank Halai, 23 Alapati Leiua
Date: Saturday, November 19
Kick-off: 16:30 GMT
Referee: Dean Richards
Assistant Referees: Roy Maybank and Simon McConnell
TMO: David Rose