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.
Speaking to GRTV after the 40-29 Aviva A League win over Wasps Rugby, Academy Coach Rich Whiffin explained his pride in the squad to overcome a strong opponent and book their spot in next week's Aviva A League final.
Willi Heinz returned from injury to skipper Gloucester to a famous 16-14 win over Stade Rochelais on Saturday evening. Speaking after the game in France, Heinz admitted the win wasn't pretty but was full of courage and a great result for the club.
Billy Burns contributed all Gloucester's points in the 16-14 European Rugby Challenge Cup win in La Rochelle on Saturday evening, but dedicated the victory to the whole squad whilst also praising the travelling support.
Speaking after Gloucester's brave 16-14 win against Stade Rochelais which clinches a European Rugby Challenge Cup final spot, Director of Rugby David Humphreys paid tribute to the way the team had executed the game plan in a hostile environment against quality opposition.
Greig Laidlaw returns to the Gloucester Rugby squad this week, and his inclusion is an important one after a serious ankle injury. The Scottish scrum half is determined to drive the team forward in their European Rugby Challenge Cup semi final in La Rochelle this Saturday.
Gloucester take on La Rochelle in the European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final in France on Saturday evening, with the Top 14 side the favourites in the eyes of the bookmakers. However, David Humphreys is looking for his side to rise to the occasion against a familiar opponent.
Speaking to GRTV after Saturday's 39-30 Aviva Premiership win over Sale, Mark Atkinson admitted that the performance wasn't perfect but that the team's character shone through in a game that could easily have slipped away.
Scotland scrum-half Greig Laidlaw is targeting a 'unique' finish to his Gloucester tenure in the European Rugby Challenge Cup final at the venue where his professional playing career began, BT Murrayfield Stadium (Friday 12 May).
Gloucester's young United side once again dug deep to take an illustrious scalp, overturning a half-time deficit to earn a 40-29 victory over Wasps and earn a place in the Aviva Premiership A League final.