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Preview: Northampton vs Gloucester

08th November 2013 12:46

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Alex Waller

Centurion: Waller

Alex Waller will become a Northampton Saints centurion with Saturday's LV=Cup opener against Gloucester at Franklin's Gardens.

The 23-year-old loosehead prop made his debut in the LV= Cup trip to the Ospreys almost four years to the day before his 100th appearance, and he lines up in a team that shows several changes from that which won at London Irish last Sunday.

Former Otago duo Glenn Dickson and Rob Verbakel both make their senior bows, as does Senior Academy wing Howard Packman, who follows in the footsteps of his father, Frank, in playing for the Saints first team. Packman comes in for Tom Collins, who picked up a knock in the game at the Madejski Stadium.

Meanwhile there is a first start for scrum-half Ryan Glynn, while half-a-dozen other players make their first starts of the season. There are four more potential debutants on the bench - Senior Academy trio Matt Williams, Alex Day and Sam Olver, and lock Alex Woolford, who is on loan from Moseley for the weekend.

Centre Dom Waldouck wears the captain's armband for the first time.

Meanwhile, Freddie Burns will captain Gloucester for the first time, and 17-year-old Ollie Thorley will make his club debut for the Cherry and Whites on Saturday.

Burns, as well as Matt Kvesic, was released from the England training camp this week and Nigel Davies has no hesitation in naming them both in his starting line-up.

Meanwhile Thorley, at 17 years and 59 days old, will become the youngest Gloucester player since the game went professional, beating Billy Burns who was aged 17 years and 130 days when he played at London Irish, also in the LV= Cup in February 2012.

Thorley, a pupil at Cheltenham College and who also plays for Stow Rugby Club, is one of the brightest young talents in the club's Junior Academy and a member of the England U18 squad.

Also, making their first starts of the season are Gareth Evans, Dan George, James Gibbons, Steph Reynolds and second row Tom Hicks who moved to Gloucester from the Saints in the summer.

Back-row forward Ross Moriarty is named in the first team squad for the first time since recovering from shoulder surgery following England U20s Junior World Championship triumph. He will start on the bench.

And Dean Close School fly-half Lloyd Evans, a regular in Gloucester's A League side this season is also named amongst the replacements.

Speaking to the local media this week, Director of Rugby Nigel Davies stressed that making full use of his squad is the correct way to proceed over the next few matches.

"Over the next three games, the two LV= Cup friendlies and the Japan fixture, we'll rotate the squad, field strong teams in all games, be competitive and gain some momentum in to the next block of Premiership games.

"Using the whole squad produces healthy competition for places, means that our injury rate is 20 percent better than it was this time last year, and will hopefully bring about dividends when we need to bring players in, as they'll have been playing at first team level.

"We've got a reasonable record against Northampton. They're a very good team, they play a good brand of rugby and are playing with a lot of confidence at the moment.

"It's a great opportunity for us. We're frustrated coming off last weekend's performance, because we thought we'd done enough to win. We've just got to be more clinical."

The teams:

Northampton Saints: 15 James Wilson, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 Tom Stephenson, 12 Dom Waldouck (c), 11 Howard Packman, 10 Glenn Dickson, 9 Ryan Glynn, 8 GJ van Velze, 7 Teimana Harrison, 6 Ben Nutley, 5 James Craig, 4 Rob Verbakel, 3 Tom Mercey, 2 Mike Haywood, 1 Alex Waller.
Replacements: 16 Ross McMillan, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Gareth Denman, 19 Alex Woolford, 20 Matt Williams, 21 Alex Day, 22 Sam Oliver, 23 Vasily Artemyev.

Gloucester: 15 Martyn Thomas, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Ollie Thorley, 12 Mike Tindall, 11 Steph Reynolds, 10 Freddie Burns (c), 9 Tavis Knoyle, 8 Gareth Evans, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Matt Cox, 5 Tom Hicks, 4 Will James, 3 Shaun Knight, 2 Dan George, 1 James Gibbons.
Replacements: 16 Koree Britton, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 Tom Heard, 19 Jonny Hill, 20 Ross Moriarty, 21 Reese Boughton, 22 Billy Burns, 23 Lloyd Evans.

Date: Saturday 9th November
Vene: Franklin's Gardens
Kick-off: 17:00 GMT
Referee: Steve Lee (England)
Assistant referees: Tim Wigglesworth, Gareth Copsey (both England)

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