South African back row pair are back to fitness
GLOUCESTER have been boosted by the return to fitness of South African back-row pair Ruan Ackermann and Jaco Kriel.
Ackermann has not played after picking up a bad ankle injury in training in November, which required surgery, while Kriel has also been sidelined with an ankle problem since the final game of 2018 against Sale.
With James Hanson, Willi Heinz and Tom Marshall also having returned in recent weeks, Gloucester’s squad is now looking in a much stronger position as they return to Premiership action with a home game against league leaders Exeter Chiefs on Friday.
And it leaves head coach Johan Ackermann with some serious selection headaches.
He said: “The back-row and the locks are very difficult (to choose from) with all the back-row almost fit, apart from Jake (Polledri) who is a week away.
“The locks are all fit so it makes it tough to fit everybody in.
“The front-row is still quite (disrupted) with Val (Rapava Ruskin) injured, and (Ruan) Dreyer injured. Paddy (Mcallister) is struggling a bit with an injury, Alex Seville is struggling a little bit so they are still pretty much selecting themselves.
“The hookers now are going to be fully fit again. We’ve got Henry Walker, James Hanson and Franco Marais all fully fit. So that’s good news. Selection there will be tough, but the front-row in the next couple of weeks will become tougher and tougher (to pick from).”
“Every player wants to play and put on the shirt, that’s what they strive for and I can understand that.
“But we can only pick 23, and sometimes you have to take a gamble on how the game will go: what every player brings, where’s his strength, what to expect from the opposition and you obviously have to make a choice somewhere - and hope you get it right.”
Gloucester will have winger Ollie Thorley available after he spent time training with the England squad but Henry Purdy is still out with concussion.