In-form Gloucester Rugby prop Murphy wins chance against Harlequins
FAST-IMPROVING Dan Murphy will win his first Premiership start of the season against Harlequins tomorrow.
The Cherry and Whites loosehead prop has been given the nod ahead of accomplished Nick Wood for the league clash at The Stoop (kick-off 5.15pm).
It is reward from rugby director Nigel Davies to an impressive start to the new campaign – and yet more evidence of Davies’ complete faith in his squad depth.
Wood takes a seat on the bench for the mouth-watering clash against the league leaders, with Gloucester gunning for their first win at The Stoop since 2006.
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Murphy joined Gloucester from London Irish last year but struggled to force his way into the side, with imperious Wood starting the majority of matches when fit and ready.
But 27-year-old Murphy has been buoyed by Davies’ arrival and now looks to be hitting prime form.
His selection for tomorrow’s clash is no doubt his opportunity to impress, but also ensures Wood is not overused to boot.
If Murphy has made his mark on the field, he has certainly been impressing his front-row peers.
Elsewhere Gloucester must be wary of a fit-again Nick Evans, returning after ankle trouble for his first action since October 14.
The classy 32-year-old Kiwi fly-half signed a new three-year contract yesterday – which means he will effectively end his career in West London.
That kind of jubilant script writes itself, and Gloucester will have to subdue his myriad talents.
Sione Kalamafoni’s knee knock means Matt Cox slots in at blindside flanker, with Akapusi Qera and Ben Morgan completing the back-row.
Martyn Thomas rotates in at full-back with Rob Cook taking a seat on the bench, while Shane Monahan slots in for Charlie Sharples, who is on England duty.
Mike Tindall once again captains the side in the absence of club skipper Jim Hamilton, who has rib trouble but is also gearing up for Scotland’s autumn international series.
HARLEQUINS: M Brown, T Williams, M Hopper, S Smith, N Evans, K Dickson, M Lambert, J Gray, J Johnston, O Kohn, G Robson, M Fa’asavalu, L Wallace, N Easter (capt). Replacements: R Buchanan, D Marfo, W Collier, C Matthews, T Guest, J Burns, B Botica, S Stegmann.
GLOUCESTER: M Thomas, S Monahan, M Tindall (capt), B Twelvetrees, J Simpson-Daniel, F Burns, J Cowan, D Murphy, H Edmonds, R Harden, T Savage, W James, M Cox, A Qera, B Morgan. Replacements: T d’Apice, N Wood, D Chistolini, P Buxton, G Evans, D Robson, T Molenaar, R Cook.