ALED Thomas will captain a Gloucester squad containing six new faces in tonight’s Premiership Rugby Sevens.
The 2009 Sevens World Cup winner joined the Cherry and Whites from the Scarlets in the summer and will lead his new club in the defence of their title.
He is joined by another five newcomers as coaches Olly Morgan (inset) and Simon Lane have opted for a squad packed with youthful exuberance and a sprinkling of experience. Junior World Championship winners Callum Braley and Henry Purdy will both make their first appearances in cherry and white, as do back-row trio Dan Thomas, Jacob Rowan and Sam Showering.
There are two faces from last season’s triumphant squad in Steph Reynolds and fellow Welsh sevens specialist Rhodri McAtee.
Morgan said: “I’m really excited for Thursday and very pleased that we have been able to field a squad with 90 per cent Gloucester contracted players.
“There’s the likes of Steph Reynolds whose name was banded about after what he did last year but I’m also really excited to see guys like Lloyd Evans, Ollie Thorley and Sam Underhill.
“Callum Braley and Henry Purdy are also new to the squad and hopefully they will be able to continue their form from the Junior World Championships.
“Then you have the experience of Billy Meakes, who has played for Australia Sevens and Aled who obviously won the Sevens World Cup. That experience is invaluable, especially with the different flow and structure of sevens.
“Aled and Jacob are also new to the club, it will be their first appearance in a Gloucester jersey and they will want to put a marker down.”
Gloucester have had limited preparation time for the Kingsholm sevens and that in itself is unsurprising given the nature of pre-season preparations.
Their training time has also been limited to three sessions due to the amount of change at the club this summer but Morgan is confident in his squad and reckons home advantage can spur his charges on.
He added: “Preparation has been difficult but that’s just how it is and we are all used to it. We’ve had only three sessions so far and will have a team run today.
“With the majority of our players in the first team squad and a new coaching set-up it‘s been vital that they have been in all the team sessions and we wouldn’t expect anything different.
“But one thing Kingsholm has over all the other clubs is a competition like this will always attract numbers.
“That’s why you see teams put strong teams out and it will be a great experience for some of the youngsters and new guys to taste that Kingsholm atmosphere – it’s added motivation for us.
“It’s been a fantastic event over the last couple of years and hopefully we can qualify and go on to defend our title.”
Gloucester Rugby: Sam Showering, Jacob Rowan, Dan Thomas, Bill Meakes, Sam Underhill, Rhodri McAtee, Aled Thomas (captain), Lloyd Evans, Henry Purdy, Ollie Thorley, Callum Braley, Steph Reynolds Squad reserves: Charlie Norman, Ben Vellacott.