Freshly signed Harlequins winger Chris Ashton won’t feature for his new club this weekend as he bids to recover from an injury picked up while at Sale Sharks.
Harlequins face Bristol Bears at Ashton Gate this weekend but their new signing won’t be on hand to help them but he but is ‘expected to be available in the coming weeks’.
The England international wing is ruled out by what the club describe as “a small knock,” with Gustard making two changes by handing starts to wing Luke Northmore, who returns following an ankle injury, and fly-half Brett Herron.
Quins are fresh from beating long-time league leaders Exeter last weekend.
Gustard said: “It was great to get an important win against Exeter, who have yet again this season showed consistency in performance and strength in all aspects of their game.
“Last week is, however, last week, and it is crucial that our entire focus and effort has been directed to this Sunday’s opponents.
“We look forward to the challenge at Ashton Gate against a Bristol side that are well organised with a highly-talented squad including some world-class talent in their team.”
Bristol will target a fifth successive Gallagher Premiership victory and aim to maintain their play-off push. Pat Lam’s team are unbeaten in the Premiership for two months after reeling off victories over Gloucester, Northampton, Worcester and Bath.
“We have now had four wins in a row, but we’ve learnt our lesson a few times already since I’ve been here – if you get carried away, you come unstuck,” Lam told Bristol’s official website.
“It has been 14 years since we won at Bath and did the double over them.
“We are under no illusions now as to the challenge we face on Sunday. We saw what Harlequins did against Exeter. They’ve got a great coach and great players.
“I’ve got a lot of time for Paul Gustard (Quins head of rugby) and he is doing something similar in trying to change culture and trying to make big improvements in the group, and he is bringing along a lot of good, young players as well.
“We lost to them in round two (of the Premiership), so we have a goal to make sure we beat every team this year, and we have that challenge this week.”
Lam has made six changes, with wing Henry Purdy returning to the back division, replacing ankle injury victim Piers O’Conor, and Harry Randall, Will Capon, John Afoa, Dan Thomas and Nathan Hughes also recalled to the starting XV.
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