Gloucester Rugby head coach George Skivington has announced a youthful team ahead of their Gallagher Premiership round 14 clash away to Harlequins on Saturday afternoon.
Skivington’s men are much changed from the 20-14 home defeat to Leicester Tigers last weekend, with a big three weeks ahead for the club as they face Exeter Chiefs next weekend before a Heineken Champions Cup clash with La Rochelle.
🍒 TEAM NEWS
Here are the Cherry & Whites heading to the Stoop. 👊
1️⃣5️⃣ of the 2️⃣3️⃣ homegrown. 🏡
— Gloucester Rugby (@gloucesterrugby) March 19, 2021
Gloucester veteran and former England No. 8 Ben Morgan returns from a lower leg injury to make his first start of the season to add experience to a young Cherry and Whites pack. Second row Matt Garvey will captain the side as they rest a number of first choice players for the coming weeks.
Isaac Marsh, Freddie Thomas and Matty Jones have been named on the bench and are set to make their Premiership debuts. Ethan Hunt makes his first start at hooker with the experience of Val Rapava-Ruskin and Fraser Balmain either side of him.
Matt Banahan and Henry Trinder partner up in the centres with Charlie Sharples coming in at fullback in the place of Argentine Santiago Carreras. George Barton continues at Fly Half and will combine with 23-year-old Charlie Chapman, who goes up against 84 cap England scrum-half Danny Care.
🚨 𝗧𝗲𝗮𝗺 𝗻𝗲𝘄𝘀 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗦𝗮𝘁𝘂𝗿𝗱𝗮𝘆
🔀 Six changes made for Gloucester game.
— Harlequins 🃏 (@Harlequins) March 19, 2021
Harlequins will prove a tough test for the Gloucester youngsters as they have named a strong side as they look to continue their climb up the table. Marcus Smith will pose a challenge for Barton at 10 with Alex Dombrandt captaining the side.
However, the Cherry and Whites boss is focused on the performance of his own side rather than the threat that Smith and Co pose.
“We are extremely aware that they have a good eight, nine and ten. It is probably the on-form eight, nine, ten in the league so their team is functioning really well. We have to stay true to our systems and not change them for Harlequins or anyone.
“We are evolving and getting places with our systems now, but we’re not perfect and not the finished article. We have a lot of growth in what we are doing so we won’t be changing anything for Quins,” said Skivington.
“Guys like Danny Care, Marcus Smith and Alex Dombrandt can change the game in a split second and some great backs with experience in (Mike) Brown. There are threats all over the place and the biggest thing is they have momentum on their side. They lost in the last five minutes against the European Champions away from home so it is no mean feat to go down there and beat them. We stick true to what we are trying to build and see what happens.”
It is a bold selection from Skivington but his investment in the club’s youth will bring a long term benefit to his side as they look to build for the rest of the season.