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Gloucester Rugby name side for Heineken Champions Cup fixture in Montpellier

Gloucester Rugby name side for Heineken Champions Cup fixture in Montpellier
Jaco Kriel will skipper Gloucester Rugby in Heineken Champions Cup action in Montpellier on Sunday, leading a side that will see 18-year-old winger Louis Rees-Zammit make his full European debut for the club.

Only four players retain their places in the starting line-up from last weekend’s European opener against Toulouse – Jason Woodward, Chris Harris, Freddie Clarke and Gerbrandt Grobler.

Rees-Zammit’s selection on the wing will see him become the club’s youngest ever starter in a European fixture. He will be 18 years and 295 days old on Sunday, beating the previous mark of 18 years and 326 days set by James Simpson-Daniel in the semi-final against Leicester in the 2001 semi-final.

Also in the back line, Billy Twelvetrees returns to the back line, Ollie Thorley is back having been a late withdrawal last weekend and there is a new look half-back pairing in Callum Braley and Lloyd Evans.

Up front, Corné Fourie will make his first start for the club at hooker, joined in the front row by the experienced pairing of Fraser Balmain and Josh Hohneck.

Alex Craig will make his first European start in the second row alongside Gerbrandt Grobler, with Freddie Clarke moving to number eight. Jake Polledri and Jaco Kriel occupy the blindside and openside berths.

Montpellier opened their Heineken Champions Cup campaign with a defeat on the road at Connacht last weekend, and Head Coach Johan Ackermann acknowledged that it means the French side will want to bounce back in front of their own fans.

“It shows the quality of the competition. A lot of last weekend’s games were highly contested and could have gone either way. Connacht played with a lot of passion and commitment and found a way to defeat a very good and a very star-studded Montpellier side.

“There’s no easy game in this group, and even more so now that Montpellier have lost. They will probably want to fix that this weekend at home and we are their next opposition. So, we know that we’ll be up against a highly-motivated side.

“They will be under a bit of pressure. If we fix the things that we can control, we’ve put in a lot of hard work in the last few days, and can play our brand and style, then we do see opportunities and if we get early points can add to that pressure.”

Gloucester Rugby:

  1. Jason Woodward; 14. Louis Rees-Zammit, 13. Chris Harris, 12. Billy Twelvetrees, 11. Ollie Thorley; 10. Lloyd Evans, 9. Callum Braley; 1. Josh Hohneck, 2. Corné Fourie, 3. Fraser Balmain; 4. Alex Craig, 5. Gerbrandt Grobler; 6. Jake Polledri, 7. Jaco Kriel (capt), 8. Freddie Clarke


Replacements:

  1. Todd Gleave, 17. Val Rapava Ruskin, 18. Jamal Ford-Robinson, 19. Ruan Ackermann, 20. Lewis Ludlow, 21. Joe Simpson, 22. Mark Atkinson, 23. Matt Banahan


Unavailable for selection:

Ruan Dreyer, James Hanson, Willi Heinz, Tom Hudson, Franco Marais, Ben Morgan, Ed Slater, Henry Trinder, Owen Williams
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