LIVE: Gloucester Rugby v Exeter Chiefs team news and build-up as several stars return to side – but South Africa international ruled out

A host of key players have returned to the Gloucester side for the first time after injuries – but Jaco Kriel remains sidelined.

Captain Willi Heinz, Ruan Ackermann, Tom Marshall and Jason Woodward will all start Friday’s Premiership clash against Exeter Chiefs after lay-offs with returning hooker James Hanson named among the replacements.

The Cherry and Whites have had to cope with a lengthy injury list over the past couple of months and the game seems to have come too soon for Kriel, who went off in the defeat at home to Sale at the end of 2018 but has been back training with the squad.

Ackermann has been out since early November, Marshall since mid-October and Woodward since the win at Newcastle on December 23, while Heinz is yet to play in this calendar year.

Their returns are all a boost for Gloucester, who are seeking to consolidate their challenge for a top four finish.

Gloucester also have winger Ollie Thorley available after his recent England call-up.

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Head coach Johan Ackermann has had to make some big calls with Tom Savage chosen to partner Franco Mostert in the second row with Gerbrandt Grobler on the bench and no place in the squad for the usually ever-present Ed Slater.

Freddie Clarke and Ben Morgan start in the back row with Ackermann, who dons the seven shirt for the first time at Gloucester.

He has also opted for Mark Atkinson and Billy Twelvetrees as his centre partnership, while Marshall is preferred to Matt Banahan on the wing.

Exeter have six players training with the England squad this week though and therefore will be without hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie, props Ben Moon and Harry Williams, centres Ollie Devoto and Henry Slade and the versatile Jack Nowell.

It will be Gloucester’s first game back in the Premiership since they were beaten by Leicester in early January and several first team players have not played since the defeat to Munster over a month ago that ended their hopes of progressing from their Heineken Champions Cup pool.

More on the team news in the live blog building up to the game below.

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Publish date : 2019-02-14 12:31:13

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