Gloucester Rugby: Cook and Kalamafoni in as Davies seeks backline balance
STRIKE backline balance and Gloucester will set their Premiership season alight, believes Nigel Davies.
Full-back Rob Cook and flanker Sione Kalamafoni will make their full debuts in tomorrow’s Premiership clash with Wasps at Kingsholm (kick-off 3.15pm).
Freddie Burns is restored at fly-half, with Billy Twelvetrees back in harness at inside centre.
Henry Trinder completes a midfield axis that is mouthwatering on paper, but yet to fire fully on the field.
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Cherry and Whites rugby director Davies knows his men will hit their attacking straps at some point – and he hopes it will be this weekend.
Davies explained: “We’ve worked very hard all week on our problems, and hopefully we’re a lot better equipped now as a result.
“Communication and little elements, that’s been crucial to what we’ve scrutinised this week, and we hope that will pay dividend.
“Obviously our attacking game has not come together yet, and our draw at Worcester was hardly a great spectacle.
“But we’re not panicking and we’re not worried, we’re just continuing to battle to put all those things right.
“We’re quite happy to keep taking the game to teams up front, but we know we’ve got to get our game in order behind the scrum sooner or later.
“And everyone would love it to be sooner.
“We can see overall improvement, but we’re not even close to where we want to be.
“That’s a source of frustration, but we’ve been working hard to channel that into solving the problems rather than simply lamenting them.”
Two out of three injury doubts miss out this weekend, but full-back Martyn Thomas is fit to take a seat on the bench.
The former Newport Dragons man has battled a sprained toe all week, so has hardly trained, but is ready to return.
That’s a boost to the squad given Shane Monahan and Charlie Sharples are still fighting their ailments.
Irish powerhouse Monahan suffered internal bleeding after copping a finger in the eye against Worcester last weekend.
England flyer Sharples is still recovering from damage to the AC joint of his right shoulder.
Davies said both men could potentially miss two weeks yet.
As expected Wales and British Lions stalwart Stephen Jones starts at fly-half for Wasps, with former Gloucester playmaker Nicky Robinson taking a seat on the bench.
One-time Gloucester target Marco Wentzel captains a Wasps side buoyant from their resounding victory over London Irish last weekend.
England flanker James Haskell takes his place at blindside flanker in a Wasps side pretty well beefed up after their troubles last term.
But Gloucester will fancy their chances of turning the screw in the scrum against the Wasps eight.
GLOUCESTER: Rob Cook, Jonny May, Henry Trinder, Billy Twelvetrees, James Simpson-Daniel, Freddie Burns, Dan Robson, Nick Wood, Darren Dawidiuk, Rupert Harden, Tom Savage, Jim Hamilton (capt), Sione Kalamafoni, Andy Hazell, Ben Morgan. Replacements: Huia Edmonds, Dan Murphy, Shaun Knight, Will James, Akapusi Qera, Dave Lewis, Mike Tindall, Martyn Thomas.
WASPS: Tommy Bell, Tom Varndell, Elliot Daly, Andrea Masi, Christian Wade, Stephen Jones, Joe Simpson, Tim Payne, Thomas Rhys Thomas, Zak Taulafo, Tom Palmer, Marco Wentzel (capt), James Haskell, Jonathan Poff, Ashley Johnson. Replacements: Tom Lindsay, Simon McIntyre, Fabio Staibano, James Cannon, Billy Vunipola, Charlie Davies, Nicky Robinson, Jack Wallace.