Danny Cipriani set to return for Gloucester in Heineken Champions Cup

Danny Cipriani
Danny Cipriani

Danny Cipriani will return from injury for Gloucester's crunch Heineken Champions Cup clash against Munster at Kingsholm on Friday.

Gloucester must win to keep alive hopes of reaching the quarter-finals from a fiercely-competitive Pool Two that also features Gallagher Premiership leaders Exeter and French champions Castres.

The west country club currently prop up the group, but they are only four points behind leaders Munster.

England international fly-half Cipriani has not played since suffering a chest injury during Gloucester's Champions Cup home defeat against Exeter four weeks ago.

And he has been missed, with Gloucester conceding a total of 64 points in losing their last two league games to Sale and Leicester following a narrow away victory over bottom club Newcastle.

Prolific try-scoring wing Ollie Thorley is also back, while lock Franco Mostert switches to blindside flanker and Ed Slater partners Gerbrandt Grobler in the second row.

Reflecting on recent results, Gloucester head coach Johan Ackermann said: "Having those losses were disappointing and not good for us.

"But my message to the players was that history can't be changed and we can only control what is in front of us.

"We have learnt lessons from the past two weeks and implemented them into our training to try and get better.

"But we've not been sulking about it. Friday's challenge is massive, and if you go into it with a negative mindset, it's not going to help."

Twice European champions Munster will reach the last-eight as pool winners if they defeat Gloucester and then beat Exeter in Limerick on Saturday week.

But victories for Gloucester and Exeter - the Chiefs host Castres on Sunday - would ensure a thrilling finale to the closest of this season's Champions Cup groups.

"We are looking forward to a big challenge against a quality side, and after this weekend we will know where we are in the pool," Ackermann added.

"But we can't worry about that. We just have to put in a big performance and let the result look after itself."

Munster head coach Johann van Graan has made a number of changes from the side that beat Guinness PRO14 opponents Connacht last weekend.

Mike Haley, Rory Scannell, Conor Murray, Dave Kilcoyne, Stephen Archer and CJ Stander all come into the side, which is captained by flanker Peter O'Mahony.

The European Challenge Cup also resumes on Friday, with French club La Rochelle knowing that victory over Pool Four visitors Zebre would put them within touching distance of a quarter-final spot.

The Newport-based Dragons, meanwhile, should encounter few problems disposing of Rodney Parade visitors Timisoara Saracens in Pool One, but both sides are already out behind unbeaten leaders Clermont Auvergne and second-placed Northampton.

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