Hooker Vis­agie to make first start away to Chiefs

Western Daily Press (Saturday) - - Rugby -

JACO Vis­agie will make his first start for Glouces­ter Rugby as one of six changes to the start­ing line-up for the Heineken Cham­pi­ons Cup match away to Ex­eter Chiefs this af­ter­noon.

It is the first leg of the tra­di­tional Euro­pean De­cem­ber dou­ble-header, and the sec­ond time that the Cherry & Whites have played at Sandy Park in a fort­night fol­low­ing the re­cent Gal­lagher Premier­ship fix­ture.

Hooker Vis­agie has fea­tured from the bench in the last two games, but will make his full de­but in one of three changes to the pack.

Ger­brandt Grob­ler re­turns to the sec­ond row to partner Tom Sav­age, and Jake Polledri will start at open- side flanker. In the back line, Matt Bana­han, Tom Hud­son and Henry Trinder all re­turn to the line-up.

De­spite the fact that the two teams met two weeks ago, head coach Jo­han Ack­er­mann ad­mit­ted this week that it is a com­pletely dif­fer­ent propo­si­tion this week­end and that Glouces­ter Rugby will have to be at their best.

“It’s a new chal­lenge and a new com­pe­ti­tion and will prob­a­bly be a new team we’re fac­ing as well as they’ll be bring­ing in play­ers who weren’t avail­able two weeks ago.

“But we’ll be look­ing first and fore­most at our­selves, and look­ing to ex­e­cute bet­ter than we did on that spe­cific day. We can’t control any- thing other than our own mind­set and way of play­ing.

“We know that they are a lead­ing side do­mes­ti­cally and in Europe. They’re go­ing to test us on all fronts – they’re phys­i­cal with a good set­piece and test you de­fen­sively as they keep the ball for long pe­ri­ods. So we have to be at our best if we are to give our­selves any op­por­tu­nity.”

Glouces­ter and Ex­eter Chiefs are cur­rently the bot­tom two teams in their Cham­pi­ons Cup group.

■ Bris­tol Bears head coach Pat Lam says his play­ers have “a fan­tas­tic op­por­tu­nity” to test them­selves against Euro­pean Chal­lenge Cup op­po­nents La Rochelle to­day.

The French club head to Ash­ton Gate af­ter claim­ing a max­i­mum ten points from their first two Euro­pean games, with Bris­tol lead­ing the Pool Four chase in sec­ond spot.

Full-back Mat Protheroe makes his first ap­pear­ance in al­most a year af­ter re­cov­er­ing from in­jury, while there are also starts for wing Tom Pin­cus, fly-half Cal­lum Sheedy, prop Lewis Thiede and lock Joe Joyce.

“We’ve picked a core of young English play­ers for this cup clash,” Lam told the club’s of­fi­cial web­site.

Alex Davidson/ Getty Im­ages

Glouces­ter, in red, and Ex­eter clashed in the Premier­ship only last month

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