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Preview: Gloucester v Perpignan

11th October 2013 12:40

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Huia Edmonds Gloucester 2012

Huia Edmonds: First start of the season

Hooker Huia Edmonds will make his first start of the season as Gloucester host Perpignan in Saturday's Heineken Cup opener at Kingsholm.

Edmonds made his first appearance of the season as a replacement last weekend against Exeter Chiefs, having recovered from a knee injury.

The Australian international will feature in a pack that has three new faces from last weekend. Also coming into the starting line up are Shaun Knight and Elliott Stooke.

Stooke's selection sees skipper Tom Savage moving to the blindside flank, with Sione Kalamafoni moving across to number eight.

There are also three new faces in the backs. All Black Jimmy Cowan gets the nod at scrum-half, and Jonny May and Rob Cook return to the back three.

Saturday's fixture will be the first time that the two teams have met since the 2002/3 season, and Gloucester boss Nigel Davies is looking forward to the encounter.

"It's a fantastic game to have and we're delighted to be in Europe," he said.

"We worked very hard to qualify. We've got a couple of things that we need to prove as a team and as a unit, and we're hoping to do that on Saturday.

"The Heineken Cup is a fantastic platform for all the players, and for the team to be involved in. I've been involved in the competition as a coach for many years, getting to two semi finals and six quarter finals. I want this group to experience that as well.

"It's a very tough group as they all are. But that's the beauty of the competition. You're up against the very best teams in Europe. This week's game is important for a number of reasons but, in the context of the tournament, you have to win your home games. Failing to do that makes it very difficult to qualify."

Davies acknowledges that Gloucester have a point to prove after last week's Exeter defeat, but have to channel that disappointment carefully.

"We were all hugely disappointed, but very frustrated and eager to make amends for last week," he added. It was the same going into the Northampton game. We're anxious to do well but we can't let that anxiety creep into our performance."

Meanwhile Perpignan have made eight changes to their run-on side after last weekend's Top 14 victory over Biarritz.

Amongst the backs, Wandile Mjekevu replaces Joffrey Michel on the right wing while Tommaso Benvenuti takes over from Sione Piukala in midfield and Nicolas Durand comes in for Dewaldt Duvenage at scrum-half.

There's changes aplenty amongst the forwards with former Gloucester back-rower Luke Narraway getting the nod at number eight. He comes in for Jean-Pierre Perez, who drops to the bench while Justin Purll, who was at the base of the scrum against Biarritz shifts to blindside flank.

Romain Taofifenua and Dan Leo replace Guillaume Vilaceca and Sebastien Vahaamahina in the second row while Paulica Ion and Sebastien Taofifenua take over as the starting props from Giorge Jgenti and Kisi Pulu.

The teams:

Gloucester: 15 Rob Cook, 14 Jonny May, 13 Mike Tindall, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 James Simpson-Daniel, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Sione Kalamafoni 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Tom Savage (c), 5 James Hudson, 4 Elliott Stooke, 3 Shaun Knight, 2 Huia Edmonds, 1 Yann Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Dan George, 17 Dan Murphy, 18 Rupert Harden, 19 Gareth Evans, 20 Akapusi Qera, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Ryan Mills, 23 Martyn Thomas.

Perpignan: 15 James Hook, 14 Wandile Mjekevu, 13 Tommaso Benvenuti, 12 Lifeimi Mafi, 11 Sofiane Guitoune, 10 Camille Lopez, 9 Nicolas Durand, 8 Luke Narraway, 7 Alasdair Strokosch, 6 Justin Purll, 5 Romain Taofifenua, 4 Dan Leo, 3 Paulica Ion, 2 Guilhem Guirado (capt), 1 Sebastien Taofifenua.
Replacements: 16 Romain Terrain, 17 Kisi Pulu, 18 George Jgenti, 19 Jean-Pierre Perez, 20 Dewaldt Duvenage, 21 David Marty, 22 Joffrey Michel, 23 Luke Charteris.

Date: Saturday, October 12
Kick-off: 18:00 BST
Venue: Kingsholm
Referee: Leighton Hodges (Wales)
Assistant referees: Ian Davies (Wales), Sean Brickell (Wales)
Television match official: Tim Hayes (Wales)
Timekeeper: Matthew Peters (England)

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