Evergreen Mike Tindall leads Gloucester in Hamilton's absence
THIS was supposed to be the season Mike Tindall eased off on the playing front, as he acclimatises to coaching for the first time.
Instead Gloucester’s player-backs coach will make his 17th appearance of the season tomorrow.
The London Irish game is Gloucester’s 19th competitive match of the campaign – Tindall has only missed two matches all term.
The 34-year-old will also captain the Cherry and Whites in tomorrow’s Kingsholm Premiership clash (kick-off 3pm), as a finger injury has got the better of club skipper Jim Hamilton.
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Talismanic lock Hamilton played through the pain of his finger trouble in last week’s 17-12 Leicester Tigers defeat.
But this time around he has been unable to make Davies’ line-up, for Gloucester’s fourth clash against the Exiles this term.
Happy to hand the captaincy to dependable Tindall, Gloucester boss Davies hailed his durability.
Longer than expected injuries to Henry Trinder and Jonny May, coupled with Ryan Mills’ knee surgery, have limited Gloucester’s midfield options.
All three are on the road to return, but in the meantime Gloucester boss Nigel Davies has no qualms about continuing to sending Tindall into service.
Rugby director Davies explained: “Mike’s taken to the coaching side of things extremely quickly.
“We haven’t put any pressure on him there, we’ve just let him get his bearings and get a handle on what his challenge is.
“But typically for him, he’s really pushed things forward at a pace there, and that’s great.
“Obviously with a few of the injury issues we’ve had we haven’t actually had a huge amount of options in the midfield, so when others are available again it will be great.
“But Mike has been fantastic for us on the field as well as off it this term.
“He’s a strong leader of course, and his experience and influence certainly rub off on the rest of the backline.”
Tom Savage lines up alongside Will James at lock, with Hamilton sidelined, so Pete Buxton steps up to the bench.
Rob Cook returns at full-back after illness ruled him out of the Leicester match and Dan Murphy trades places with Nick Wood, but aside from that, Gloucester field the same team that pushed the Tigers all the way at Welford Road.
Irish welcome back England loosehead Alex Corbisiero, and that will bolster their scrum.
The Cherry and Whites have already seen off the Exiles three times this term, and tomorrow’s contest is the third between the teams in five weeks.
Should Gloucester win they will complete the set of Premiership and Amlin Challenge Cup doubles over Brian Smith’s men.
GLOUCESTER: R Cook, C Sharples, M Tindall (capt), B Twelvetrees, S Monahan, F Burns, J Cowan, D Murphy, H Edmonds, S Knight, T Savage, W James, S Kalamafoni, A Qera, B Morgan. Replacements: D Dawidiuk, N Wood, D Chistolini, P Buxton, M Cox, D Robson, T Molenaar, M Thomas.
LONDON IRISH: T Homer, J Joseph, S Tagicakibau, S Shingler, M Yarde, I Humphreys, P Phibbs, A Corbisiero, D Paice, Halani Aulika, G Skivington, B Evans (capt), M Garvey, J Sinclair, C Hala’ufia. Replacements: S Lawson, M Lahiff, L Halavatu, K Low, J Gibson, G Armitage, S Geraghty, J Moates.