Gloucester v London Wasps
October 4, 2008
Mike Tindall will lead a much-changed Gloucester side against Wasps © Getty Images
Mike Tindall will skipper Gloucester in their first round Anglo-Welsh Cup tie against Wasps at Kingsholm on Saturday.
The England centre will be the only surviving member of the backline that started against Newcastle in the Guinness Premiership on Tuesday as head coach Dean Ryan shuffles his options for his third game in eight days.
Tindall will line-up in the centre alongside Jack Adams, who will make his first senior start of the season in the number 13 shirt. Rory Lawson, a high-impact replacement against the Falcons, will start in a half-back combination alongside Ryan Lamb, while there are returns in the back three for Lesley Vainikolo, Mark and Willie Walker at full-back.
"We have an avenue for people to come into the side and put their hand up for regular selection and that is key for us and the squad," said head coach Dean Ryan. "But we are also in a situation in some positions that players simply have to play because of our injury situation.
"But we can still explore new options and it gives players the chance to press their claims ahead of the Heineken Cup. This is another significant competition, we are playing a side renowned for their spirit and durability and we have to compete."
Gloucester's forward pack has a far more settled look to it. They will not risk Luke Narraway, Carlos Nieto (back) or Nick Wood (groin) who are all out through injury but Olivier Azam returns in the front row alongside props Alasdair Dickinson and Dave Young.
At lock, Marco Bortolami will partner Alex Brown, while Apo Satala will make his first start at number six following the confirmation of his season-long contract this week. Andy Hazell returns to the openside flank and Alasdair Strokosch runs out at number eight.
"We are asking certain individuals like the second rows to front up again but I am confident that if we get things right, this is a competition we can do well in. I think the EDF Energy Cup is a great competition but you cannot afford to take your eye off the Guinness Premiership and Europe at this stage.
"We have had to look at our resources over these three games but we want to do well in this competition."
Wasps Director of Rugby Ian McGeechan has made 14 changes to his starting line up ahead of the match.
Riki Flutey, Josh Lewsey, Tom Palmer, Tom Rees, Paul Sackey and Phil Vickery, who have all featured in Wasps last two Premiership outings are rested, and the new look side will be lead by Joe Worsley as the Londoners venture to Kingsholm tomorrow.
Following his recovery from a groin strain, new signing Lachlan Mitchell is named at full back for his first start since arriving from the Waratahs Academy this summer. He will be joined in the back division by Wasps Academy and England U20 international Mark Odejobi, replacing Sackey, while Tom Voyce moves to the wing. Dominic Waldouck maintains his place in the centre and is joined in the starting line up by Rob Hoadley.
Following his return to action at Adams Park on Wednesday, Danny Cipriani will take a seat on the bench as Jeremy Staunton starts at 10.Similarly Mark Robinson will start in place of Eoin Reddan, also named among the replacements.
In the front row Tom French, Rob Webber and Pat Barnard will lead a pack which includes George Skivington, making his 2008/09 debut, Richard Birkett and a new look back row of James Haskell, Serge Betsen and captain Worsley.
Looking ahead to the game McGeechan said, "The EDF Energy Cup provides us with a new challenge which will offer our full squad the opportunity to pick up valuable game time. With three games in eight days it is a big challenge for our relatively small squad but as we start our new campaign we can bring in fresh legs offering some of younger and newer players a fresh opportunity.
"Travelling to Gloucester we know how big the challenge is ahead of us, they are a strong side who continue to display solid performances and it will be very important that we maintain our focus and remain consistent in the things that we are delivering well."
Gloucester: Willie Walker; Mark Foster, Jack Adams, Mike Tindall (c), Lesley Vainikolo; Ryan Lamb, Rory Lawson; Alasdair Dickinson, Olivier Azam, Dave Young, Marco Bortolami, Alex Brown, Apo Satala, Andy Hazell, Alasdair Strokosch.
Replacements: Scott Lawson, Yann Thomas, Peter Buxton, Adam Eustace, Dave Lewis, Henry Trinder, Olly Morgan.
London Wasps: Lachlan Mitchell, Mark Odejobi, Dominic Waldouck, Rob Hoadley, Tom Voyce, Jeremy Staunton, Mark Robinson, Tom French, Rob Webber, Pat Barnard, George Skivington, Richard Birkett, James Haskell, Serge Betsen, Joe Worsley (c)
Replacements: Raphael Ibanez, Michael Holford, Damien Varley, Simon Shaw, Eoin Reddan, Danny Cipriani, Dan Leo
"We were only five metres away in the last Test of getting that try and with Jonny's inevitable conversion, we'd have won it." Tom Hamilton talks to Lions fullback Matt Perry
Toulon's Heineken Cup final victory over Clermont Auvergne may have ended a long title drought for the Top 14 club but two of their players are no strangers to success
We bring you our pick of the best pictures from around the world in the last seven days with the battle for Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup glory taking centre stage