Perry back for Bristol

For the first time since the middle of December, Bristol Rugby Head Coach Richard Hill is able to call upon the services of England scrum half Shaun Perry as Bristol travel to Leeds Carnegie in the Guinness Premiership.

Perry fractured his windpipe against Harlequins in the Heineken Cup and will make his competitive return on Sunday.

Coincidentally, Nathan Budgett, who suffered the same freak injury, is also named in the matchday 22 having been absent for an even lengthier period.

Perry’s return is the only change to the Bristol backline from last Sunday’s game against Bath but there are several changes in the pack.

Hooker Mark Regan, not required by England, will start and is joined in the front row by the evergreen Dave Hilton.

Roy Winters returns in the second row in place of Gareth Llewellyn and Alfie To’oala takes the place of Matt Salter at blind side flanker. Joe El Abd will captain the side.

On the replacement’s bench, in addition to Budgett’s return, Jason Hobson is back and Iain Grieve is rewarded with a call up following some impressive performances for the United.

There’s rarely a meaningless game in the Guinness Premiership these days and Sunday is no exception with Leeds in desperate need of the points as they currently lie 10 points adrift of Worcester at the foot of the table.

Head Coach Richard Hill admitted that he is happy to welcome back a few players but is aware of the threat that Leeds will pose:

“We watched the DVD of Leeds’ game at Welford Road and it was an entertaining one. Leeds surprised Leicester by going 13-0 up but Leicester applied pressure primarily through the forwards and won comfortably in the end.”

“That’s what Leeds are capable of doing. They’re a very spirited side. I know Stuart Lancaster very well. He’s a good coach who has instilled a good spirit and a good style of play.”

“They do play some great rugby but perhaps haven’t got the heavy pack of forwards to compete at scrum, lineout and in the driving game. But they can play rugby with the best of them and, if they get on top, particularly at home then we’ll be in for a hard time.”

“We’re not going to treat this with more important than any other game but we need to get back to our attacking ways and shore up our defence as we missed a few tackles against Bath.”

“We’ve made one or two changes to freshen things up a little bit. I’m delighted to have Shaun Perry back. He’s been desperate to get back in there but has been training hard. We’ve been cautious with him but he’s 100% now and will be a huge asset for us.”

“We’re going to go out and try and enjoy it. That’s the message we’ve been sending out in the last few games trying to develop our attacking game.”

“But Leeds will have targetted this one and their next couple of games as they strive to avoid relegation. It’s their Cup final and we know that. So we’ll be faced with a fierce opponent but we’ll be up for that challenge.”

Bristol Rugby:

Luke Arscott; Anthony Elliott, Rob Higgitt, David Hill, David Lemi; Ed Barnes, Shaun Perry; Dave Hilton, Mark Regan, Darren Crompton; Roy Winters, Sean Hohneck; Alfie To’oala, Joe El Abd (capt), Andrew Blowers


Scott Linklater, Jason Hobson, Nathan Budgett, Iain Grieve, Brian O’Riordan, Sam Cox, Craig Morgan

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