Willi Heinz returns to skipper Gloucester Rugby
Gloucester Rugby captain Willi Heinz will make his first appearance of the 2018-19 season in Friday evening’s Premiership Rugby Cup fixture against Northampton Saints at Kingsholm (kick off, 7:45pm).
Heinz has been sidelined with a calf injury and his return is a timely one with the Cherry and Whites facing a testing run of fixtures in the next few weeks.
He features in a strong line-up for round three of the Premiership Rugby Cup, as Gloucester Rugby seek to get back to winning ways after defeat at Bristol last weekend and keep their semi-final hopes alive.
Only three of the team that started at Ashton Gate last weekend – Ollie Thorley, Henry Trinder and Gareth Evans – are retained, Jaco Kriel will make his first start for the club and Mark Atkinson will start at fly-half.
Head Coach Johan Ackermann told the local media this week that the first two rounds of the Premiership Rugby Cup have been a positive experience and that Northampton will be a tough opponent on Friday evening.
"It was a great opportunity for players to get game time, it was good to see young players out there, testing themselves and getting a bit more experience. All in all, I think it was a good two weeks.
"We now want to start re-integrating some of the players who haven’t played for the last two weeks, because we don’t want to go back to the Premiership against Leicester with some of the players not having played for almost a month.
"We want to give some of those guys a decent hit out, but also to start performing well and build some momentum.
"We’ve prepared for a quality Northampton side, they’re always quality. They’ve been a side with talent throughout and will come here hungry to win – we have to match that."
15. Jason Woodward; 14. Matt Banahan, 13. Henry Trinder, 12. Billy Twelvetrees, 11. Ollie Thorley; 10. Mark Atkinson, 9. Willi Heinz (capt); 1. Josh Hohneck, 2. James Hanson, 3. Fraser Balmain; 4. Tom Savage, 5. Ed Slater; 6. Gareth Evans, 7. Jaco Kriel, 8. Freddie Clarke
16. Henry Walker, 17. Val Rapava Ruskin, 18. Ciaran Knight, 19. Gerbrandt Grobler, 20. Ruan Ackermann, 21. Callum Braley, 22. Henry Purdy, 23. Tom Hudson
Unavailable for selection:
Danny Cipriani, Ruan Dreyer, Lloyd Evans, Lewis Ludlow, Franco Marais, Tom Marshall, Paddy McAllister, Ben Morgan, Jake Polledri, Will Safe, Charlie Sharples, Ben Vellacott, Owen Williams