Saturday & Sunday’s Aviva Premiership team news
Saturday and Sunday’s Premiership team news as Gloucester host Worcester and Leicester travel to the Ricoh Arena to take on top of the table Wasps.
Gloucester v Worcester (Saturday, 3pm)
Scrum-half Greig Laidlaw returns to skipper Gloucester in what will be a hard-thought local derby against Worcester Warriors on Saturday.
The Cherry & Whites make five changes to the starting line-up after the desperately disappointing late 12-13 loss to the Northampton Saints.
In addition to the return of Laidlaw, with Willi Heinz having to observe the return to play protocols, Charlie Sharples recovers from injury and returns on the right wing, while Matt Scott is back alongside Billy Twelvetrees in the midfield.
Gloucester retain the same front five that started against Saints, but bring back Wales Number 8 Ross Moriarty and Jacob Rowan in the back row for Lewis Ludlow and Matt Kvesic respectively.
Meanwhile Warriors youngster Jamie Shillcock returns to the side Saturday’s game.
The 19-year-old is one of three changes to the starting 15 which beat Harlequins at Sixways on New Year’s Day as Phil Dowson is restored as captain at number eight.
Dowson replaces Dewald Potgieter, who picked up a knock last Sunday, while Shillcock replaces Josh Adams, who also took a blow to the face against Quins.
Gloucester: 15 James Hook, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Matt Scott, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Jonny May, 10 Billy Burns, 9 Greig Laidlaw (c), 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Jacob Rowan, 6 Ross Moriarty, 5 Jeremy Thrush, 4 Tom Savage, 3 Salesi Ma’afu, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Josh Hohneck
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu’u, 17 Paddy McAllister, 18 John Afoa, 19 Joe Latta, 20 Lewis Ludlow, 21 Ben Vellacott, 22 Andy Symons, 23 Henry Purdy
Worcester: 15 Jamie Shillcock, 14 Dean Hammond, 13 Wynand Olivier, 12 Jackson Willison, 11 Cooper Vuna, 10 Ryan Mills, 9 Michael Dowsett, 8 Phil Dowson (c), 7 Sam Lewis, 6 Alafoti Faosiliva, 5 Darren Barry, 4 Donncha O’Callaghan, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Jack Singleton, 1 Val Rapava Ruskin
Replacements: 16 Jaba Bregvadze, 17 Na’ama Leleimalefaga, 18 Biyi Alo, 19 Tevita Cavubati, 20 Will Spencer, 21 Marco Mama, 22 Luke Baldwin, 23 Ben Howard
Harlequins v Sale Sharks (Saturday, 3pm)
There are four personnel changes and three positional changes to the Harlequins team that played Worcester Warriors last weekend.
Nick Evans returning to start at fly-half while Charlie Walker is selected on the wing. Alofa Alofa moves from the wing to start in the centres with Joe Marchant.
In the forwards Will Collier is named at tighthead prop as Dave Ward and James Chisholm combine with Luke Wallace in the back row.
Chris Robshaw, Jamie Roberts and Jack Clifford are unavailable for selection due to injuries picked up last weekend.
Meanwhile, following his side’s defeat to Bristol on New Year’s Day, Sale boss Steve Diamond has recalled Will Addison, who starts at outside centre, partnering Johnny Leota.
Bryn Evans and TJ Ioane start in the forward pack, replacing Jonathan Mills and Magnus Lund respectively.
In the backs, Byron McGuigan starts on the wing, with Josh Charnley taking a place on the bench.
Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Alofa Alofa, 12 Joe Marchant, 11 Charlie Walker, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Danny Care (c), 8 James Chisholm, 7 Dave Ward, 6 Luke Wallace, 5 Charlie Matthews, 4 George Merrick, 3 Will Collier, 2 Rob Buchanan, 1 Joe Marler
Replacements: 16 Joe Gray, 17 Owen Evans, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Stan South, 20 George Naoupu, 21 Karl Dickson, 22 Tim Swiel, 23 Matt Hopper
Sale Sharks: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Denny Solomona, 13 Will Addison, 12 Johnny Leota, 11 Byron McGuigan, 10 Sam James, 9 James Mitchell, 8 Josh Beaumont (c), 7 TJ Ioane, 6 Cameron Neild, 5 Andrei Ostrikov, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Halani Aulika, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Ross Harrison
Replacements: 16 Neil Briggs, 17 James Flynn, 18 Kieran Longbottom, 19 Jonathan Mills, 20 Ben Curry, 21 Mike Phillips, 22 AJ MacGinty, 23 Josh Charnley
Northampton Saints v Bristol Rugby (Saturday, 3pm)
Jamie Elliot comes in on the right wing is the only change to Northampton Saints’ starting line-up for Saturday’s Premiership clash with Bristol.
Elsewhere Lee Dickson and James Craig both join the replacements’ bench.
Meanwhile, Bristol have made three changes from their side, as Adrian Jarvis returns at fly-half, while Kyle Traynor and Jamal Ford-Robinson are also included in the front row.
Northampton Saints: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Jamie Elliott, 13 Luther Burrell, 12 JJ Hanrahan, 11 George North, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Teimana Harrison, 6 Tom Wood (capt), 5 Christian Day, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Mikey Haywood, 1 Alex Waller
Replacements: 16 Charlie Clare, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Paul Hill, 19 James Craig, 20 Jamie Gibson, 21 Lee Dickson, 22 Harry Mallinder, 23 Juan Pablo Estelles
Bristol: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Jack Wallace, 13 Thretton Palamo 12 Will Hurrell, 11 Tom Varndell, 10 Adrian Jarvis, 9 Will Cliff, 8 Mitch Eadie, 7 Olly Robinson (c), 6 Nick Fenton-Wells, 5 Ben Glynn, 4 Dan Tuohy, 3 Jamal Ford-Robinson, 2 Rob Hawkins, 1 Kyle Traynor
Replacements: 16 Max Crumpton, 17 Ryan Bevington, 18 Gaston Cortes, 19 Mark Sorenson, 20 Jack Lam, 21 Rhodri Williams, 22 Billy Searle, 23 Luke Arscott
Saracens v Exeter Chiefs (Saturday, 3pm)
It will be an afternoon of milestones for two Sarries front-rowers as loosehead prop Richard Barrington will make his 100th appearance for Saracens with Juan Figallo bringing up a half-century of appearances for the club.
They’re joined by Schalk Brits in the front-row, whilst at lock, Jim Hamilton comes into the side to partner Maro Itoje.
In the back-row, Kelly Brown starts at openside flanker with Mike Rhodes at openside and Jackson Wray at Number 8.
In the halves, Alex Lozowski comes into the side at fly-half for Owen Farrell who is rested with Richard Wigglesworth coming back into the side at scrum-half.
Brad Barritt skippers the side alongside Marcelo Bosch in the Saracens midfield while Sean Maitland, Chris Wyles and Alex Goode completed the line-up.
Meanwhile despite claiming a first-ever victory at Bath’s Recreation Ground last time out, Exeter boss Rob Baxter has made changes to his winning formula.
Up front, Carl Rimmer, Luke Cowan-Dickie and Greg Holmes make up a new-look front row, Ollie Atkins and Geoff Parling come into the second row, while England international Tom Johnson makes his first Premiership start since New Year’s Day at Northampton in 2016.
Behind, England star Henry Slade is fit again to take his place in the midfield alongside Sam Hill, while James Short is rewarded for his match-winning tries a week ago by starting on the wing against his former club.
Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Brad Barritt (c), 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Alex Lozowski, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Jackson Wray, 7 Kelly Brown, 6 Michael Rhodes, 5 Jim Hamilton, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Richard Barrington
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Titi Lamositele, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Will Skelton, 20 Schalk Burger, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Duncan Taylor, 23 Nick Tompkins
Exeter Chiefs: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Sam Hill, 12 Henry Slade, 11 James Short, 10 Gareth Steenson (c), 9 Will Chudley, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Tom Johnson, 6 Don Armand, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Ollie Atkins, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Carl Rimmer
Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Ben Moon, 18 Harry Williams, 19 Mitch Lees, 20 Dave Dennis, 21 Jack Maunder, 22 Ian Whitten, 23 Michele Campagnaro
Wasps v Leicester (Sunday, 3pm)
Director of Rugby Dai Young has named his side to face Leicester Tigers at the Ricoh Arena this Sunday.
There are welcome returns from long-term injury for James Haskell and Simon McIntyre, who are named on Wasps’ bench.
Haskell is set to make his first appearance in black and gold this season, following the toe injury sustained during England’s tour of Australia. McIntyre returns after three months sidelined by an ankle injury, picked up against Saracens in October.
There are three changes to the starting fifteen that secured a bonus-point win at Newcastle last weekend, with Kurtley Beale, Jimmy Gopperth and Kearnan Myall all set to start when Leicester Tigers make the trip to Coventry this Sunday.
Meanwhile, Aaron Mauger, in charge following the departure of director of rugby Richard Cockerill this week, makes one change in the backline and one in the forwards from the team that started against Saracens on New Year’s Day.
With Manu Tuilagi ruled out for the rest of the season by a knee injury, Tom Brady starts on the wing as Peter Betham reverts to centre alongside Jack Roberts.
Flanker Will Evans comes in to start in the back row, with Brendon O’Connor moving to No8 this week.
Matt Smith will be looking to add to his 191 appearances for the club as he returns to the matchday squad for the first time since suffering an ankle injury in the Anglo-Welsh Cup win at Bath in November.