Premiership preview: Freddie Burns can let his talents do the talking in tasty duel with Toby Flood

Despite a media silence, Gloucester's precocious fly-half has the swagger to tame the Tigers today

Gloucester were so concerned about a "Freddie Burns versus Toby Flood for England" storyline building up through the week, they put Burns in purdah. Two points here: for one thing, the Test-shirt-at-stake issue was never a runner, given that only Flood had a place in the national squad; for another, if the richly talented Burns is not equipped to deal with the pressure of the written word, how in the name of God will he ever handle the close attentions of Richie McCaw or David Pocock?

Burns has the swagger, the deep-rooted confidence in his own ability, to prosper at the top level and it would be just like him to prove as much this afternoon. The outside-half has Jimmy Cowan, an All Black scrum-half, on one side of him and the exciting centre Billy Twelvetrees on the other – not that he is obviously in need of security guards – and if a pack featuring the fast-developing young lock Tom Savage do not wilt in the heat generated by the Leicester forwards, we could be in for a minor classic.

The Tigers, buoyed by their Heineken Cup victory over Ospreys last weekend, are still without Julian Salvi, their ultra-effective open-side flanker. But Louis Deacon, the hard-working international lock, is back between the shafts, while Geordan Murphy resumes as captain following injury.

Northampton v Saracens

Hardly the friendliest of near-neighbours, these two have engaged in a series of compelling struggles over recent seasons. They do not see eye to eye on much, least of all selection policy: while the Saints like to stick with the tried and tested – the only time they rotate is when they wheel a scrum – Sarries have no time for the status quo. Hence the benching of Charlie Hodgson, one of the players of the campaign to date, in favour of Owen Farrell, who desperately needs a big game at No 10 if he is to stand a chance of starting for England against Fiji in a fortnight.

If Northampton lead the table after six rounds, it is not by much: their opponents today are one of three sides within a couple of points. While the England selectors will concentrate their attention on the 10 members of the Test squad on view, they would do well to make a study of the young visiting flanker Will Fraser while they're at it. He is beginning to look the part.

Bath v Exeter

Some would argue that Exeter have just played the two strongest sides in Europe – they lost narrowly to the Heineken Cup champions Leinster in Dublin a fortnight ago before being spanked by Clermont Auvergne seven days later – and those exertions could tell on them at the Recreation Ground today. There again, Bath are patently not one of the northern hemisphere's stronger sides, no matter what their bank balance says.

The Devonians re-introduce Gonzalo Camacho to their back division following the Argentine wing's long spell of Puma duty, and pair the Wallaby lock Dean Mumm with James Hanks at the expense of the captain Tommy Hayes – an arrangement that worked perfectly for them in the big win over Harlequins recently. Bath, meanwhile, welcome the hard-hitting Carl Fearns back into the loose forward equation.

London Irish v Harlequins

The Exiles are a lot happier with life as a result of their eyebrow-raising victory over Northampton in the last round of matches and with the centre Guy Armitage joining a back division full of pace and attacking ability, they will half-fancy their chances of doing a job on their former landlords. The champions are without the England centre Jordan Turner-Hall, who had 120mls of blood drained from his left knee before last weekend's Heineken Cup outing in Connacht and has been granted a week off, not unreasonably. Tom Casson replaces him.

Wasps v London Welsh

Tom Voyce, once of Wasps (and lots of other clubs) makes his first start for London Welsh at full-back against previous employers who are slowly regaining their faculties after years of trauma. The freshly-reconfigured Wasps back row of Ashley Johnson, James Haskell and Billy Vunipola looks particularly interesting, especially as they will be chasing one Gavin Henson around the paddock.

Aviva Premiership: Weekend fixtures

Today

Bath v Exeter (2.30pm, Sky Sports 1) Northampton v Saracens (3pm)

Gloucester v Leicester (4.45pm, Sky Sports 1)

Tomorrow

London Irish v Harlequins (2.15pm, ESPN)

Wasps v London Welsh (3pm)

Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Saunders stars as Miss Windsor, Dennis's hysterical French teacher
filmJennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Voices
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum