Gloucester make four changes for the final against Sharks

rugby23 May 2024 12:34
By:Gavin Rich
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Santi Carreras © Gallo Images

The Hollywoodbets Sharks’ opponents in Friday night’s EPCR Challenge Cup final at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium have made four changes to the side that got them there by beating Benetton in the semifinal three weeks ago.

The headline Gloucester change is the return of their star Argentine fullback Santi Carreras for Josh Hathaway, who drops to the bench. Carreras missed the Benetton game because he was having his appendix removed but has now fully recovered and will play an important role in the Gloucester challenge.

Three of the changes come in the pack, with the man some airspace was given to by the South African media this week, the Russian captain and former top wrestler Kirill Gotovtsev moving to the bench after wearing the No 3 jersey in the semifinal. His front row partner from that game, Mayco Vivas, has also moved to the bench, suggesting these are tactical suggestions, with perhaps the Sharks’ replacement front row player set to be targeted later in the game.

Jamal Ford-Robinson has come in at loosehead as the starting replacement for Vivas.

The final will be the last appearance for some of the Cherry and Whites, with both England wing Jonny May and Scotland international Adam Hastings, the flyhalf, moving on at the end of the season.

Gloucester are by no means as star studded as the Sharks are and they are second last in the Gallagher Premiership but they do have a smattering of international players apart from Carreras, May and Hastings, with centre Chris Harris another Scotland international who was good enough to play one of the three test matches for the British and Irish Lions in the 2021 series against the Springboks. His midfield partner is a highly rated former England under-21 player and is just 22 years of age, thus at a similar age and stage of his career as Sharks centre Ethan Hooker, who has made an impressive breakthrough to big rugby this season.

A player many South Africans will know well is blindside flanker Ruan Ackermann, who has played for the Emirates Lions and is the son of former Lions and Gloucester coach and Springbok and Sharks and Bulls lock Johan Ackermann.

GLOUCESTER TEAM: Santi Carreras, Jonny May, Chris Harris, Seb Atkinson, Ollie Thorley, Adam Hastings, Caolan Englefield, Zach Mercer, Lewis Ludlow (captain), Ruan Ackermann, Arthur Clark, Freddie Clarke, Fraser Balmain, Seb Blake, Jamal Ford-Robinson. Replacements: Santi Socino, Mayco Vivas, Kirill Gotovtsev, Albert Tuisue, Jack Clement, Stephen Varney, Max Llewellyn, Josh Hathaway.