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.
Fly-half Billy Burns was named Man of the Match after the 35-14 European Rugby Challenge Cup victory over Stade Rochelais on Thursday evening, and was full of praise for all his team mates for the win after a short turnaround.
Gloucester have been in good form in recent weeks, but Backs Coach Tim Taylor knows that the Cherry and Whites will have to be at their best on Thursday evening (kick off 7:45pm) against a Stade Rochelais side flying high this season.
Speaking to GRTV after the bonus point win over Bristol, back row Lewis Ludlow revealed that despite a tricky first half, Gloucester backed their skills to come through, a faith that was evident in a strong second half showing.
Willi Heinz scored Gloucester's second try as the Cherry and Whites overturned a disappointing first 40 minutes and 0-6 half time deficit, to earn a 26-18 Aviva Premiership victory over Bristol Rugby on Saturday.
Gloucester's much changed side had to overcome conceding an early try on Thursday evening, but responded in style to down Stade Rochelais by 35 points to 14 in the European Rugby Challenge Cup and set up a mouthwatering return fixture next weekend.
After taking 11 points from their last three games in the Aviva Premiership, including bonus point wins against Wasps and Bristol, Gloucester will be looking to continue their good form when they welcome La Rochelle to Kingsholm.