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Jonny May to return for Gloucester's European test against Bayonne

Published 14/10/2016

England wing Jonny May will make his comeback from injury on Saturday
England wing Jonny May will make his comeback from injury on Saturday

England wing Jonny May will make his comeback after a 10-month injury absence when Gloucester begin their European Challenge Cup campaign against Bayonne on Saturday.

May, who has scored six tries in 19 Tests, has been sidelined since suffering a serious knee injury during Gloucester's Aviva Premiership encounter against Harlequins at Twickenham last December.

May is among five changes to the side that drew with Exeter last time out, as Willi Heinz takes over from scrum-half Greig Laidlaw, and there are also starts for prop Yann Thomas, lock Joe Latta and flanker Lewis Ludlow for the game at Stade Jean-Dauger.

"We topped our pool in Europe in the last two years, and we want to make sure that we top the pool again and get into the knock-out stages with home draws," Gloucester forwards coach Trevor Woodman said.

"It's always tough when you go to France. It's a challenging environment that you go into.

"They (Bayonne) have got some quality throughout their team, and we have to make sure that we trust what we do, we trust our systems and make sure we don't get carried away into that French flair and that sort of off-loading game."

Bath also head to France this weekend, facing Pau on Saturday night, with rugby director Todd Blackadder handing Wales international Rhys Priestland a start at fly-half instead of George Ford.

"We are really excited about the next couple of European games we have coming up," Blackadder said. "It's a different competition, and that gives us a chance to take a fresh look at things.

"We've not made too many changes, but it's a fantastic opportunity for guys who haven't had as much game time as some to step up and start for us.

"It is great to have the likes of Guy Mercer, Luke Charteris and Rhys Priestland back. All three are experienced players who will give us a new energy going into the game."

Worcester, meanwhile, face Enisei-STM at the Slava Stadium in Moscow on Saturday, with the Warriors parading a number of younger prospects such as centre Will Butler, full-back Josh Adams, hooker Matti Williams and lock Charlie Hewitt.

Warriors backs coach Sam Vesty said: "Our squad is a mix of younger and senior players, and we want to be competitive in these games.

"We want to get off to a winning start and get our game on the pitch in trying conditions. We've got a good group and we're looking forward to it.

"Enisei are a very good team at home, and beat Newcastle and Brive last year, so we know that we face a tough challenge.

"It is a chance for the guys. We need competition in the squad to keep everyone on their toes."

Also in Challenge Cup action on Saturday are Edinburgh, who travel to Romania for an appointment with Timisoara Saracens, and Treviso have home advantage against in-form French Top 14 side La Rochelle.

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