SMART centre Drew Locke can finally prove his Kingsholm prowess, tips Gloucester fly-half Tim Taylor.
Former Cornish Pirates midfielder Locke will make his Cherry and Whites first-team debut in tomorrow night’s LV=Cup opener at Ospreys (kick-off 7.45pm).
The 26-year-old has had an injury-plagued start to his Gloucester career, after joining on a one-year contract in the summer.
With rugby director Nigel Davies already scrutinising the make-up of his squad with next term in mind, men like Locke will be keen to impress sooner rather than later.
Former Nottingham playmaker Taylor is excited about linking up with Tim Molenaar and Locke in Gloucester’s midfield tomorrow.
And he believes former Exeter Chiefs and Coventry centre Locke has all the qualifications to make the Kingsholm grade.
Taylor explained: “I think Drew’s a very talented player, he’s been very unlucky with injuries so far.
“He got a couple of head knocks, those keep you out for two weeks at a time generally, and there’s nothing you can do about that.
“Then he got another little niggle, and that’s obviously set him back.
“But he just needs to get a run of games, and then I’m sure he’ll show what he can do and how important he can be to Gloucester.
“He’s got a lot of skill and he hits and good line, and it will be great to see him out there tomorrow.”
Gloucester boss Davies has given youth its hand for tomorrow’s Anglo-Welsh clash, as promised.
Defence coach Paul Moriarty’s son Ross wins his first start at blindside flanker, after notably muscular efforts in Gloucester United’s A League action.
Academy second row pair Elliott Stooke and Will Graulich will look to reprise their powerful A League showings as they team up in the engine room.
And Dario Chistolini has an opportunity to make an impression in the front-row.
Cinderford duo Ed King and Ben Sparks are drawn in on the bench, as Davies’ aims to forge fruitful two-way relationships with local clubs start to ripen up.
Lineout co-ordinator King is a set-piece tactician, while number eight Sparks is a pacy runner quick off the scrum base and always looking to cut a sharp line.
Freddie Burns’ younger brother Billy takes a seat on the bench, covering fly-half and full-back, and the Academy man has been impressing in A League action and with Hartpury RFC this term.
GLOUCESTER: Martyn Thomas, Shane Monahan, Drew Locke, Tim Molenaar, Ian Clark, Tim Taylor, Dan Robson, Yann Thomas, Tommaso d’Apice, Dario Chistolini, Elliott Stooke, Will Graulich, Ross Moriarty, Matt Cox, Pete Buxton (capt). Replacements: Koree Britton, Dan Murphy, Tom Heard, Ed King, Ben Sparks, Dave Lewis, Billy Burns, Steph Reynolds.