Rory Lawson will start against Northampton tomorrow
Bruce Seabrook/GPA Images
RORY LAWSON will make his first Guinness Premiership start for Gloucester tomorrow against Northampton Saints at Kingsholm (3pm).
The former Edinburgh scrum-half will replace Peter Richards in the starting line-up for the visit of the Saints, as Gloucester aim to continue their unbeaten start to the season.
Lawson's inclusion is one of four changes to the starting XV that drew 27-27 against Leicester last weekend. Ludovic Mercier is named at stand-off in place of the injured Willie Walker and will also make his first Premiership start of the season.
Brad Davies, who kicked the equalising penalty at Welford Road, is named on the bench.
Up front, Nick Wood gets the nod at loosehead in place of Patrice Collazo and Adam Eustace replaces Will James at lock.
Of the decision to start with Lawson, head coach Dean Ryan told www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk "Pete is not injured and has been fantastic for us so far this season but we feel Rory deserves an opportunity and I am excited at the prospect.
"We know Pete will play a major part in our season over a long period and we realise we need to manage that properly."
Mercier, who has made 65 Premiership appearances and has scored 805 points, replaces Walker who has a knee injury.
The rest of the line-up remains unchanged. Olivier Azam and Christian Califano partner Wood in the front row, Marco Bortolami is once again named as matchday captain and the back row trio of Peter Buxton, Andy Hazell and James Forrester is intact.
Anthony Allen and Rudi Keil are again the midfield partnership while James Bailey, Mark Foster and Olly Morgan complete the back three.
"After last week, our main emotion after drawing at Leicester was frustration because we felt we could have won the game," Ryan said. "So we acknowledge this game is of huge significance for us after the start we have made.
"We have a number of players unavailable through injury which makes our start to the season even more pleasing.
"But Northampton are a fantastic side with outstanding individuals who will be very competitive - it should be a great game."
GLOUCESTER (v Northampton, tomorrow, Kingsholm, 3pm): Olly Morgan; James Bailey, Rudi Keil, Anthony Allen, Mark Foster; Ludovic Mercier, Rory Lawson; Nick Wood, Olivier Azam, Christian Califano, Adam Eustace, Marco Bortolami (capt), Peter Buxton, Andy Hazell, James Forrester. Reps: Mefin Davies, Jack Forster, Will James, Jake Boer, Pete Richards, Brad Davies, Jack Adams.
Gloucester-Hartpury Women take on West Park Leeds Ladies in the final of the Intermediate Cup Final on Saturday. Head Coach Susie Appleby took time out to preview the game and chat about the future for the team.
Number eight Ben Morgan admitted that the 32-14 Aviva Premiership win over Bristol on Friday evening hadn't been pretty at times, but that the win was based on everyone in the squad remaining united and working for each other.
Previewing Friday evening's local derby at Bristol, Interim Head Coach Jonny Bell told the local media that Gloucester's preparations have gone well and that the whole squad is united in trying to finish the season on a high.
Speaking to GRTV this week, Acting Head Coach Jonny Bell spoke of his pleasure in the efforts and intensity in training from the squad after a tricky few weeks. The team were preparing for big games with Bristol and Cardiff in coming weeks.
Willi Heinz was understandably and visibly disappointed when he spoke to GRTV after the 27-30 home defeat to Harlequins, apologising to the home support as the game slipped away after seemingly having the game under control.
Speaking to the local media this week, Scottish centre Matt Scott spoke of the squad's determination to put in a big home performance against Harlequins, with vital points up for grabs in the hunt for a Top Six spot this Saturday (KO 3pm)
In the aftermath of the Aviva Premiership victory over Bristol, Interim Head Coach Jonny Bell was able to look forward to this weekend's European Rugby Challenge Cup quarter-final against Cardiff Blues (Kingsholm, kick off 8:05pm).