Heinz is back and set to face the Saints

Western Daily Press - - Sport - ROBERT ILES robert.iles@reach­plc.com

WILLI Heinz will make his first Glouces­ter Rugby ap­pear­ance of the 2018-19 sea­son in tonight’s Pre­mier­ship Rugby Cup fix­ture against Northamp­ton Saints at King­sholm.

Heinz has been side­lined with a calf in­jury and his re­turn is a timely one, with the Cherry & Whites fac­ing a test­ing run of fix­tures in the next few weeks.

Ed Slater will cap­tain the side, how­ever, to leave Heinz to fo­cus on his own game af­ter a long ab­sence. Heinz, pic­tured, fea­tures in a strong line-up for game three of the Pre­mier­ship Rugby Cup, as Glouces­ter Rugby seek to get back to win­ning ways af­ter de­feat at the Bris­tol Bears last week­end to keep their semi-fi­nal hopes alive.

Only three of the team that started at Ash­ton Gate last week – Ol­lie Thor­ley, Henry Trinder and Gareth Evans – are re­tained.

Jaco Kriel will make his first start, with the King­sholm crowd get­ting a first chance to see the South Africa in­ter­na­tional in ac­tion for the Cherry & Whites.

One of the sur­prise se­lec­tions sees Mark Atkin­son start at fly­half, with Owen Wil­liams un­able to re­cover from the shoul­der in­jury he picked up last week.

Glouces­ter go into the game on the back of a de­feat at Bris­tol af­ter win­ning their open­ing game of the com­pe­ti­tion against Wasps, while Northamp­ton are top of Pool Three with nine points.

Cherry & Whites head coach

Jo­han Ack­er­mann said: “It was a great op­por­tu­nity for play­ers to get game-time, it was good to see young play­ers out there, test­ing them­selves and get­ting a bit more ex­pe­ri­ence.

“All in all, I think it was a good two weeks. We now want to start re-in­te­grat­ing some of the play­ers who haven’t played for the last two weeks, be­cause we don’t want to go back into the Pre­mier­ship game against Leicester with some of the play­ers not hav­ing played for al­most a month.

“We want to give some of those guys a de­cent hit out, but also to start per­form­ing well and build some mo­men­tum.

“We’ve pre­pared for a quality Northamp­ton side, they’re al­ways quality. They’ve been a side with talent through­out and will come here hun­gry to win – we have to match that.”

Northamp­ton have also picked a strong side, cap­tained by Eng­land in­ter­na­tional Tom Wood, with Piers Fran­cis also among the front­line stars to be se­lected.

Hooker Mike Hay­wood will make his 200th ap­pear­ance for the Saints.

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