• Ackermann says opponents ‘will be a desperate side’
• Saracens handed 35-point deduction and £5m fine
Johan Ackermann expects a backlash from Saracens and thinks his Gloucester side are unlucky to be facing them after a dramatic week.
Saracens were handed a 35-point deduction and fined more than £5m on Tuesday for breaching salary cap regulations, although both sanctions are suspended while the club appeals.
The Premiership champions visit Kingsholm on Saturday and Ackermann expects Saracens will have a point to prove. “We’re probably not the lucky ones in the week they’ve got that news because now they’re going to be backs-against-the-wall,” he said. “They haven’t got the luxury of slipping in a game and making it up elsewhere. They’re going to be a desperate side but hopefully that will add a bit of pressure on them and be something we can exploit.”
Bath are bottom of the Premiership and face the leaders, Northampton, at the Rec on Saturday. It is too early for the World Cup players Sam Underhill, Anthony Watson and Jonathan Joseph to be back in contention but the Bath director of rugby, Stuart Hooper, said: “They’ve been on an incredible journey – the England guys have been on a journey that ended in disappointment and Francois Louw has been on a journey that ended in elation. They’re all different people and different athletes so I will manage their time coming back into the programme. I’ll meet with them and work out the best time for them to come back.”
The centre Max Clark is a long-term injury absentee after undergoing back surgery while the prop Henry Thomas is a doubt. Will Chudley and Chris Cook are back in contention.
The Northampton hooker Dylan Hartley announced his retirement on Thursday after his longstanding knee injury and Saints head to the Rec looking to win their fourth match from four.
Worcester have an increasing injury list before their trip to Harlequins in Saturday’s other game. The centre Ryan Mills (shoulder), full-back Chris Pennell (leg), fly-half Duncan Weir (hand), back-row forwards Sam Lewis (concussion), Marco Mama (leg) and prop Ethan Waller (hand) are all doubts for the game.
Their director of rugby Alan Solomons said: “I am not ruling anyone out completely at this particular moment but we will make a decision and we will put out the injured list so you will get to see everything there.”
Harlequins’ head of rugby Paul Gustard will also have several enforced changes. He told his club’s website: “We picked up a few injuries last weekend which, although is frustrating and disappointing, it also presents a tremendous opportunity for other players to put their best foot forward and seize the opportunity. We have faith in our players and I believe in them.”
On Friday night, Dan du Preez scored Sale’s try in a 28-18 home win over Wasps in which his brother Rob scored 17 points with the boot.