Amlin Challenge Cup
Burns returns for Gloucester clash with Irish
ESPN Staff
December 7, 2012
Gloucester fly-half Freddie Burns kicks a penalty against Northampton, Glucester v Northampton Saints, Kingsholm, Gloucester, England, September 1, 2012
Freddie Burns will start for Gloucester after returning from international duty © Getty Images
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Tournaments/Tours: Amlin Challenge Cup

Freddie Burns will return from international duty to start for Gloucester against London Irish this weekend in the Amlin Challenge Cup but not in his usual fly-half position.

Director of rugby Nigel Davies has opted for Tim Taylor at No.10 while Burns switches to inside centre. Eng;and No.8 Ben Morgan will start on the bench and Jim Hamilton captains the side for the Pool One clash.

"We're going to go pretty full on, as we do for every competition," said Davies. "We will change things up a little bit and give opportunities, but it's a strong team.

"They've done very well in their two games so far in this competition, and there's no doubt that the next two games will very much determine how the pool shapes up."

London Irish will be strengthened by both David Paice and Jonathan Joseph returning to the line-up and will be looking to maintain their top position in the Pool.

London Wasps travel to Bayonne this weekend for a top-of-the-table clash in Pool Three and will be bolstered by the return of Italian centre Andrea Masi, who is back from international duty. Masi will be partnered by Chris Bell in the centres while Nick Robinson will again take on the fly-half role outside Charlie Davies, who gets a chance to start at scrum-half. James Haskell also returns in the back row alongside Ashley Johnson and Sam Jones after coming off the bench in England's win over New Zealand.

"French sides are traditionally very strong at home and, combined with the huge quality they have in their squad, that will make our job this weekend very difficult," director of rugby Dai Young said. "However, if we were to go there and get a result it would be huge for our European campaign and set us up very well the return leg of this fixture next Thursday night at Adams Park."

Bath back row Guy Mercer will captain his side for the first time as the Pool Four leaders play host to Calvisano at The Rec. Mercer will start in the back row alongside fellow Bath Academy graduate Nick Ovens and debutant Nick Koster. David Wilson returns from international duty to play in the front row, while Tom Heathcote comes in at fly-half, re-forming his half-back partnership with Mark McMillan who starts at scrum-half. Kyle Eastmond retains his position on the right wing, with Olly Woodburn replacing Tom Biggs on the left. Sam Vesty comes into the inside centre birth to form a new centre partnership with Horacio Agulla, and Jack Cuthbert is named at fullback.

London Welsh currently sit in third in Pool Four and will face a crucial battle against Grenoble tonight if they are to keep any hopes alive of getting through the group. Head coach Lyn Jones has made 14 changes from the side that defeated London Irish 15-9 at the Kassam Stadium last weekend. Full back Tom Arscott is the only player to retain his starting place.

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