GLOUCESTER have taken a 24-man squad to France for tomorrow night's pre-season game against Bayonne and have included England stars Mike Tindall and Lesley Vainikolo.
Dean Ryan's side will play their second significant pre-season game at the Stade Jean Dauger and will also hope to get further game-time for number eight James Forrester, who returned to action after more than a year on the sidelines against Canada A 10-days ago.
The squad has a 13-11 forward split and also includes prop Carlos Nieto, lock Marco Bortolami, Will James, Alasdair Strokosch and Peter Buxton.
There are also further opportunities for prop Dave Young, hooker Ross McMillan and back row forwards Guy Thompson and Dan Williams.
"This is another opportunity for us to progress our preparations against a very good French side and at the same time re-introduce some players to our squad," said head coach Dean Ryan.
"We have competition for places across the squad and that intensity is going to be vital for us. After tomorrow's game we only have one more opportunity in pre-season before the Guinness Premiership starts so it is very important we see a step-up in what we are trying to achieve.
"We appreciate tomorrow's game will be another step up physically and that is a good thing. It is up to us to generate good habits now and build on them."
Alongside Tindall and Vainikolo, there will also be an opportunity for Ryan Lamb, Olly Morgan, Anthony Allen and Matthew Watkins all have the chance for more game-time and will be joined by scrum-halves Rory Lawson and Gareth Cooper.
Charlie Sharples and Mark Foster will also compete for a wing position.
GLOUCESTER squad (forwards): Alasdair Dickinson, Olivier Azam, Carlos Nieto, Dave Young, Jack Forster, Ross McMillan, Will James, Marco Bortolami, Dan Williams, Guy Thompson, Peter Buxton, Alasdair Strokosch, James Forrester. Backs: Gareth Cooper, Rory Lawson, Willie Walker, Ryan Lamb, Matthew Watkins, Anthony Allen, Mike Tindall, Charlie Sharples, Mark Foster, Lesley Vainikolo, Olly Morgan.
Speaking to GRTV after the 40-29 Aviva A League win over Wasps Rugby, Academy Coach Rich Whiffin explained his pride in the squad to overcome a strong opponent and book their spot in next week's Aviva A League final.
Willi Heinz returned from injury to skipper Gloucester to a famous 16-14 win over Stade Rochelais on Saturday evening. Speaking after the game in France, Heinz admitted the win wasn't pretty but was full of courage and a great result for the club.
Billy Burns contributed all Gloucester's points in the 16-14 European Rugby Challenge Cup win in La Rochelle on Saturday evening, but dedicated the victory to the whole squad whilst also praising the travelling support.
Speaking after Gloucester's brave 16-14 win against Stade Rochelais which clinches a European Rugby Challenge Cup final spot, Director of Rugby David Humphreys paid tribute to the way the team had executed the game plan in a hostile environment against quality opposition.
Greig Laidlaw returns to the Gloucester Rugby squad this week, and his inclusion is an important one after a serious ankle injury. The Scottish scrum half is determined to drive the team forward in their European Rugby Challenge Cup semi final in La Rochelle this Saturday.
Gloucester take on La Rochelle in the European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final in France on Saturday evening, with the Top 14 side the favourites in the eyes of the bookmakers. However, David Humphreys is looking for his side to rise to the occasion against a familiar opponent.
Speaking to GRTV after Saturday's 39-30 Aviva Premiership win over Sale, Mark Atkinson admitted that the performance wasn't perfect but that the team's character shone through in a game that could easily have slipped away.
Scotland scrum-half Greig Laidlaw is targeting a 'unique' finish to his Gloucester tenure in the European Rugby Challenge Cup final at the venue where his professional playing career began, BT Murrayfield Stadium (Friday 12 May).