Heinz is back and set to face the Saints
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.