Last Updated: 21/04/17 1:50pm
Willi Heinz starts at scrum-half for Gloucester with Greig Laidlaw on the bench
Gloucester welcome back scrum-halves Willi Heinz and Greig Laidlaw for Saturday’s Challenge Cup semi-final against Top 14 leaders La Rochelle.
Heinz wears the No 9 shirt and skippers the side while Scotland captain Laidlaw is poised to make his first appearance since the Six Nations loss to France in February.
The Cherry and Whites are aiming for a third Challenge Cup final appearance, having won the competition in 2006 and 2015. They met La Rochelle in this season’s pool stages with the home side recording comprehensive victories on both occasions.
La Rochelle coach Patrice Colazzo let rip at his players during their loss to Gloucester in the pool stages
Tom Savage, Jacob Rowan and Ben Morgan come into the Gloucester pack for the Stade Marcel Deflandre clash while Jonny May switches wings to accommodate the inclusion of Tonga international David Halaifonua.
La Rochelle’s 12-game winning streak was ended by Lyon last weekend but Gloucester director of rugby David Humphreys insists the French side remain favourites to reach a first European final.
“They’ve rotated throughout the competition but whatever team they put out, they’ll be unbelievably competitive,” he said.
Highlights of Gloucester’s bonus-point victory over La Rochelle at Kingsholm on December 8
“We know them well having played them this season, but our focus as we always say has been very much on what we’ve done over the past four weeks.
“Huge credit to the coaches for the changes that we’ve made and also the players – we’re 20 seconds and one scrum away from having played four, won four.
“We feel we’re in a good place, we’ve been scoring some good tries and playing some good rugby. I think we’re all very excited about going to La Rochelle as the underdogs and almost with much less pressure than previously.”
Stade Francais vs Bath
April 23, 2017, 12:00pm
La Rochelle: 15 Kini Murimurivalu, 14 Gabriel Lacroix, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Pierre Aguillon, 11 Vincent Rattez, 10 Brock James, 9 Ricky Januarie; 1 Vincent Pelo, 2 Jeremie Maurouard, 3 Uini Atonio (c), 4 Jone Qovu Nailiko, 5 Mathieu Tanguy, 6 Romain Sazy, 7 Botia Veivuke, 8 Kevin Gourdon.
Replacements: 16 Jordan Seneca, 17 Mike Corbel, 18 Mohamed Boughanmi, 19 Leo Cedaro, 20 Damien Lagrange, 21 Arthur Retiere, 22 Alexi Bales, 23 Savenaca Rawaca.
Gloucester: 15 Tom Marshall, 14 Jonny May, 13 Henry Trinder, 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 David Halaifonua, 10 Billy Burns, 9 Willi Heinz (c); 1 Josh Hohneck, 2 Richard Hibbard, 3 John Afoa, 4 Tom Savage, 5 Jeremy Thrush, 6 Ross Moriarty, 7 Jacob Rowan, 8 Ben Morgan.
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu’u, 17 Paddy McAllister, 18 Yann Thomas, 19 Mariano Galarza, 20 Lewis Ludlow, 21 Greig Laidlaw, 22 Billy Twelvetrees, 23 Charlie Sharples.