Simon Amor will play at stand-off against Bucuresti
ENGLAND sevens captain Simon Amor will make his first start of the season on Saturday aiming to fill the boots of Ludovic Mercier in the European Challenge Cup against Bucuresti.
The versatile play-maker will replace the Guinness Premiership's leading scorer - and also inherit the kicking duties for Gloucester's trip to Romania.
Amor will make only his third appearance of the campaign in a vastly changed line-up announced by head coach Dean Ryan.
A trio of internationals - Phil Vickery, Mike Tindall and James Simpson-Daniel - will not travel with the squad, while Andy Hazell will not be risked because of a head injury and Duncan McRae (knee) and James Forrester (ribs) are also given further recovery time.
Stand-off Brad Davies, winger James Bailey and back row man James Merriman are not registered for European competition.
In total, there are 12 changes to the starting XV from the one that won away at Saracens last Sunday but Amor is relishing the chance of extending Gloucester's 100% record in the competition.
"Because of my involvement with the sevens, my last appearance for Gloucester was against Saracens in November and that was at scrum-half, but I am really looking forward to the opportunity this weekend," Amor told www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk
"On that day I came on at number nine and it can be quite difficult making the transition between the two positions but we have a lot to play for individually and collectively and I cannot wait for the chance.
"Both Toulon and Bayonne have been to Bucuresti and only just got through with wins so we are anticipating that it will a difficult place to play. Add in the weather conditions and the travelling and it will be tough.
"But there is a lot of motivation for the players involved who have been given an opportunity by Dean Ryan and Bryan Redpath to continue the development of the team.
"In the last few weeks we have got a framework in place and we want to build on that with Bayonne and London Irish coming up. That means we have to continue making progress this weekend."
Amor will line-up at half-back alongside Haydn Thomas but there are changes throughout the side.
There is an entirely new front row with Nick Wood, Rob Elloway and Terry Sigley alongside each other, while Mark Cornwell partners Adam Eustace at lock.
The experience of Jake Boer and Peter Buxton, who will skipper the side, hold everything together with Luke Narraway at number eight completing the back row.
Terry Fanolua and Anthony Allen get chances in the centre; while Marcel Garvey, Rob Thirlby and Jon Goodridge complete an exciting back three.
There is also plenty of experience on the bench where Mefin Davies, Gary Powell, Quinton Davids and Mark Foster will join Mercier, Alex Brown and Peter Richards.
GLOUCESTER (v Bucuresti, Saturday): Jon Goodridge, Marcel Garvey, Terry Fanolua, Anthony Allen, Rob Thirlby; Simon Amor, Haydn Thomas, Nick Wood, Rob Elloway, Terry Sigley, Adam Eustace, Mark Cornwell, Peter Buxton (capt), Jake Boer, Luke Narraway. Reps: Mefin Davies, Gary Powell, Alex Brown, Quinton Davids, Ludovic Mercier, Peter Richards, Mark Foster.
Skipper Billy Twelvetrees told GRTV after the win in Brive that the game could have been a tough one to get up for, but that his Gloucester team mates did themselves proud on the night and got a big result.
Reflecting on the 31-20 victory in Brive on Thursday evening, Director of Rugby David Humphreys said that clinching a home European Rugby Challenge Cup quarter-final was the overall aim and duly achieved.
Gloucester may have already clinched a home European Rugby Challenge Cup quarter-final, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys wants his side to finish the pool stages on a winning note in Brive on Thursday evening.
Speaking after Saturday's win, James Hudson was happy to record a bonus-point win against a hugely physical Oyonnax side as Gloucester secured their passage into the European Rugby Challenge Cup Quarter Finals
Billy Burns was a try scorer on his first European start for Gloucester and, speaking after the game, admitted that it was good to get the five points although there are still things to work on before the trip to Brive.
Gloucester Rugby have added to their front row strength in depth for next season with the signings of Paul Doran-Jones, Paddy McAllister and Nicky Thomas from Harlequins, Aurillac and the Ospreys respectively.