Gloucester Rugby: We're to take on Munster, says Nigel Davies
BEN Morgan will lead Gloucester's cast-list of stars with a point to prove out in Munster, believes Nigel Davies.
The Kingsholm boss admits he does not know his strongest Cherry and Whites line-up – so will stick to his brave selection strategy in Limerick on Saturday.
Last week Davies told his players exactly who would face Perpignan – but in-house at least also confirmed a vastly altered line-up to take on Munster at Thomond Park this weekend.
Rupert Harden, Darren Dawidiuk and Charlie Sharples can all be expected to start against Munster (6pm) after not featuring in the 27-22 Perpignan victory.
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Rugby director Davies confirmed Saturday's opening Heineken Cup pool six triumph will not tempt him to change his unusual two-week selection policy.
Henry Trinder's injury and Freddie Burns' illness ruled that pair out of the Perpignan clash though, so Davies could yet tinker his plans slightly.
Fly-half Jonny Bentley and flanker Matt Cox could be in line for their competitive first-team season bows this weekend though.
Davies explained: "It will be a group of players chomping at the bit to show what they can do too out in Munster.
"Right now I couldn't tell you what my first team is.
"Three or four of them are nailed-in, but after that it's all up for grabs, so we're still going to use these two games to establish that.
"I'm not sure Saturday night was about proving points.
"We knew we are much better than we performed against Exeter, and we just needed to step it up.
"The atmosphere had been positive in the Perpignan build-up, frustrated yes, but also keen to put in a big performance.
"And to a man they were able to get out there and do just that."
Edinburgh shocked Munster at Murrayfield with a 29-23 victory – and Davies admits that will only whip Saturday's hosts into a furious frenzy.
He continued: "Edinburgh's win certainly opens up the pool, but that doesn't change our challenge out in Munster.
"We know full well what to expect: a fierce pack, nudged around the field by shrewd tactical kickers and a backline that can cause some real damage. And Munster will be looking for the kind of reaction that we were after against Perpignan.
"It's going to be a huge challenge.
"The good thing is that there's a group of boys who didn't play on Saturday who will know they have to step it up themselves.
"They are desperate to play, they've been rested: so they should be fresh for the challenge and in the right frame of mind.
"We got the feel for the place in pre-season, so we know what a massive task is in front of us.
"But also I would imagine the pressure will be pretty much on Munster to get a result.
"Whether that works in our favour or not is another matter, but either way, we've got to be wary of that and expect a backlash.
"We've done the first job which was to secure a home win first-up, that's absolutely fundamental to what we need if we're going to progress in this tournament.
"That gives us the right to have a shot at Munster – but we absolutely must expect that they will come out spitting fire."