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RUGBY: Gloucester’s Half-back Conundrum

With Greig Laidlaw moving across the Channel at the end of the season, it’s time for Gloucester Rugby to assess their choices to fill the significant void that will be left by the Scottish captain.

Looking at their current options and a few long shots, here are a few candidates to take over the vacant nine jersey at Kingsholm.

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Willi Heinz

The 29 year old Kiwi joined the Cherry and Whites from New Zealand side Crusaders last year. Since his arival, Heinz has had limited opportunities to prove his worth.

With Gloucester’s game plan revolving heavily around the imperious boot of Laidlaw, Heinz has also been seen as a second thought.

But, with Laidlaw’s exit confirmed, this could be Heinz’s chance to seize the starting role.

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Callum Braley

The perennial third string scrum-half, Braley’s bonus point try against Treviso this weekend shows he is ready to move on to greater things.

Braley is the current captain of the Gloucester United A league side who have won two out of their three opening games.

Normally restricted to Anglo Welsh Cup games and the occasional rotation, the 22 year-old will be pushing for a starting place at the start of the new season.

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Harry Randall 

Until recently, the name Harry Randall would have been unknown to most fans, but the 18-year old has had an unbelievable past few months.

Over the summer, Randall was part of the England U20’s squad that won their World Championship with a 45-12 win over Ireland in Manchester.

Often criticised for being too small, the youngster makes up for it with excellent technique and understanding of the game.

Randall is currently playing a key role in the Hartpury College side, who are currently on an eight game winning run in the National League one, and it seems only a matter of time until he gets a first team call up.

Ruan Pienaar

A slightly left field choice, Piennar grabbed headlines recently when it was announced he would be leaving Ulster after six years at the Kingspan stadium.

With his contract up at the end of the season, the former Springbok could be a massive steal for the Cherry and Whites.

Pienaar’s prowess from the kicking tee means he could transition almost seamlessly into the gap left by Laidlaw, and his experience at the top level of the game can only be a bonus.

But, with the likes of Montpellier and Toulon interested in his signature, Gloucester will have to dig deep into their pockets if they are to sign him.

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