Gloucester missing key men for season opener at Saints

Gloucester boss George Skivington was eager to avoid giving too much away as he prepares to select his team to face Saints in the Gallagher Premiership season opener on Saturday.

Wednesday, 15th September 2021, 12:01 pm
Updated Wednesday, 15th September 2021, 12:02 pm
Louis Rees-Zammit scored twice when Gloucester won 31-7 against Saints at Franklin's Gardens back in May

The Cherry and Whites, like Chris Boyd's side, will be without several first-team regulars at Franklin's Gardens this weekend.

Both teams are set to be shorn of their British & Irish Lions stars, with Saints missing Dan Biggar and Courtney Lawes, and Gloucester without Louis Rees-Zammit and Chris Harris.

Gloucester currently have three players away with Argentina playing in The Rugby Championship, meaning back Santiago Carreras, lock Matías Alemanno and hooker Santiago Socino will not play for their club this weekend.

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Gloucester also have injury issues to contend with as South African No.8 Ruan Ackermann is still recovering from surgery on his foot and Italian flanker Jake Polledri is still sidelined with the knee ligament injury he sustained last autumn.

Former England international Ben Morgan looks set to shoulder most of the work at No.8 in the early part of the season.

Gloucester captain Lewis Ludlow is available again, having served his ban for striking a player with his knee in a ruck while leading England this summer.

And Skivington told Gloucestershire Live: "He (Ludlow) has been doing his training in the background.

"He has obviously not been involved in any of the games but he has been working really hard in training.

"Luds takes his fitness extremely seriously, and his physicality as well, so I am not concerned about that from his point of view. He is good enough to manage that.

"Game fitness is a different thing but I think it is rare you get people on the field as much as you want in pre-season anyway.

"You trust certain players to manage their way to a game and he trains extremely hard every day so yes he is available."

Former Saints prop Jamal Ford-Robinson suffered concussion during Gloucester's pre-season win at Coventry last weekend so he is a doubt for Saturday's game.

Gloucester will also be without scrum-half Joe Simpson, who has joined Saracens on a month-long loan.

Skivington explained: "We have got four really good nines in our squad (Simpson, Ben Meehan, Stephen Varney and Charlie Chapman) and a couple of young guys coming through behind that as well.

"Saracens rang me up and asked whether there was any chance of loaning a nine and we got into a conversation and we just thought Joe would fit that bill and it means he can get some game time because if they all stay fit and healthy we will struggle to get them all on the field."

Possible Gloucester line-up: Moyle; May, Seabrook, Atkinson, Thorley; Hastings, Meehan; Rapava-Ruskin, Singleton, Balmain; Slater, Dickinson; Reid, Ludlow (c), Morgan.