Laidlaw skippers Gloucester for 'Big Game 8'

Greig Laidlaw will skipper Gloucester Rugby as they resume their Aviva Premiership campaign against Harlequins at Twickenham as part of Big Game 8 on December 27th.

The Cherry and Whites’ line-up contains 12 internationals in the starting XV. Laidlaw will partner James Hook at half back and Twelvetrees will line up alongside Bill Meakes in the midfield. The back three will feature Rob Cook, Jonny May and Charlie Sharples.

The front row is formed of Paddy McAllister, Richard Hibbard and John Afoa, while Jeremy Thrush and Mariano Galarza team up for the first time in the second row. The back row will comprise Sione Kalamafoni, Matt Kvesic and Ben Morgan.

It's the first time that Gloucester will have participated in one of Harlequins' annual 'Big Games' at Twickenham, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys told the local media this week that everyone is looking forward to the challenge and the occasion.

"There's a huge amount of excitement amongst the players and staff about going to Twickenham to play. We've talked about it all week, these are the games that the big players want to play in, not just play in but also perform, and they want to put in a big performance.

"When you look at our squad, at the depth of experience – World Cup Finals, international matches, All Blacks, British Lions – they won't be intimidated at all. They understand the excitement and the pressure that comes with playing in these games. 

"But that's why they come to a club like Gloucester, they want to be involved in these sorts of games, like the ones we played in last year and hopefully there will be more to come.”

Speaking of the challenge posed by Harlequins, Humphreys was complimentary.

"They've been very successful over the last number of years and have been one of the form teams in the competition this year. They're certainly going into this week's game as strong favourites.

"But that's the challenge for us. They're a team we want to compete against and we believe, with the squad and the players we have, we can do so. But we have to go up to Twickenham and back up that belief with a really big performance.”

Gloucester Rugby:

15 Rob Cook; 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Billy Meakes, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Jonny May; 10 James Hook, 9 Greig Laidlaw (capt); 1 Paddy McAllister, 2 Richard Hibbard, 3 John Afoa; 4 Jeremy Thrush, 5 Mariano Galarza; 6 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Matt Kvesic, 8 Ben Morgan

Replacements:

16 Darren Dawidiuk, 17 Dan Murphy, 18 Paul Doran-Jones, 19 Tom Savage, 20 Jacob Rowan, 21 Willi Heinz, 22 Billy Burns, 23 Henry Trinder

Premiership Rugby - Points Table