Jarrad Butler returns to captain Connacht at Kingsholm
Jack Carty also returns to the fold as Andy Friend’s side take on Cipriani’s Gloucester
Jarrad Butler (L) returns to captain Connacht against Gloucester. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Champions Cup Pool Five: Gloucester v Connacht, Sunday December 8th, Kingsholm (kick-off 1pm, BT Sport)
Connacht captain Jarrad Butler returns from a knee injury to lead the province as they travel to play Gloucester at Kingsholm on Sunday.
Butler came off the bench in last weekend’s Pro14 win over the Southern Kings in Galway and is now fit to start, as Connacht look to bounce back in Europe after their defeat away to Toulouse last time out.
Ireland outhalf Jack Carty returns to take the number 10 jersey with Caolin Blade at scrumhalf, while Bundee Aki - fresh off the back of his new contract - is joined by Peter Robb in midfield.
An injury to Matt Healy means John Porch starts at fullback, with Kyle Godwin and Niyi Adeolokun on the wings.
Meanwhile for the hosts, Danny Cipriani starts at outhalf while former Munster forward Gerbrandt Grobler is named at lock.
Ahead of the trip to Gloucester, Connacht boss Andy Friend said: “The back to back fixtures in this competition are always critical and the next two weeks against Gloucester will decide our Champions Cup season.
“Next week will be a huge occasion but first we have to get a result on Sunday. For now, we are solely focused on that away leg and we are travelling to Gloucester with the belief that we can win the game.
“It is great to have Jarrad Butler back in the side. As our captain he has a massive influence on the group and his presence will be important for such a big occasion.
“We have also made a few positional changes to our side. Matt Healy picked up a knock in training so John Porch will slot in at full back and Kyle Godwin moves to the wing. We have used over forty players so far this season so we know the depth that we have and that will be tested again in the coming weeks.”
Gloucester: Tom Marshall; Louis Rees-Zammit, Chris Harris, Mark Atkinson, Ollie Thorley; Danny Cipriani, Joe Simpson; Val Rapava Ruskin , Franco Marais, Fraser Balmain, Gerbrandt Grobler, Franco Mostert, Ruan Ackermann, Jake Polledri, Ben Morgan (capt). Replacements: Todd Gleave, Josh Hohneck, Jamal Ford-Robinson, Alex Craig, Lewis Ludlow, Callum Braley, Billy Twelvetrees, Matt Banahan.
Connacht: John Porch; Niyi Adeolokun, Bundee Aki, Peter Robb, Kyle Godwin; Jack Carty, Caolin Blade; Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney, Finlay Bealham, Joe Maksymiw, Quinn Roux, Eoghan Masterson, Colby Fainga’a, Jarrad Butler (capt). Replacements: Jonny Murphy, Matthew Burke, Dominic Robertson McCoy, Ultan Dillane, Robin Copeland, Stephen Kerins, Conor Fitzgerald, Tom Daly.
Referee: Pascal Gauzère (France).