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Gloucester face up to Toulouse test

Gloucester are braced for a Heineken Cup clash against "probably the best side in European history" on Sunday.

Axed England star Mike Tindall will be in action for his club barely 48 hours after being kicked out of England's elite squad by the RFU and fined £25,000. Tindall, though, has little time to reflect on the RFU's action, having been named to start at inside centre against Gloucester's opening Pool Six opponents and four-time Heineken Cup winners Toulouse in France.

"They (Toulouse) are probably the best side in European history," Gloucester head coach Bryan Redpath said.

"So, you have to go there and you have to make sure your mindset is right.

"The expectation on us is very low, but internally, we know that we have to be dogged and confident in ourselves and have a real go at them. There is no point going there and sitting back and waiting for them to have a go at you.

"We have to keep possession in the right areas, avoid loose kicks and soft turnovers and maintain the intensity we've shown in the past two weeks. It's an exciting place to go to, a great place to play rugby and our players should be thriving on it and not fearing it."

Gloucester's west country rivals Bath are also on the road on Sunday, beginning their Heineken programme away to Glasgow in Pool Three, a group that also features reigning European champions Leinster.

England international Matt Banahan returns for Bath, partnering Dan Hipkiss in midfield, while there are also opportunities for wing Olly Woodburn, fly-half Tom Heathcote and hooker Ross Batty.

And there is a place on the bench for New Zealander Stephen Donald, whose second-half penalty edged an 8-7 World Cup final victory for the All Blacks over France in Auckland three weeks ago.

Another World Cup winner, former South Africa skipper John Smit, is set to make his Saracens debut against Pool Five visitors Treviso on Sunday. The ex-Springboks hooker is among Saracens' replacements, while players returning to the starting line-up include Matt Stevens, Rhys Gill and Andy Saull.


From Belfast Telegraph