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.
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.
Connacht's 30-20 win in La Rochelle on Saturday evening means that they are the third best placed runners up and will come to Kingsholm for the quarter-final of the European Rugby Challenge Cup in early April.