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.
It's the first Gloucester-Bristol derby at Kingsholm in over eight years this Saturday (kick off 4:30pm) and, previewing the game with the local media this week, Defence Coach Jonny Bell stressed that, with both teams in the bottom half of the table, they both need the points.
Speaking to the local media this week, Gloucester front rower John Afoa knows the challenge ahead this week against Bristol, and calls on the Cherry and Whites to make the most of home advantage as a determined squad look to bounce back from a narrow loss to Saracens.
Tom Savage speaks to GRTV and the local media as Gloucester went down by 24-20 at Saracens on Sunday afternoon. The second row was disappointed with the result, despite a strong showing from the hosts.
Speaking immediately after the game, skipper Willi Heinz thought that Gloucester had executed their game plan reasonably well and competed hard against Saracens. However, it wasn't enough but the squad will have plenty to work on this week ahead of the derby match against Bristol.
Gloucester may be coming off their best win of the season, the 38-16 victory over Wasps last weekend, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys admits that Sunday's trip to Saracens is an even tougher test.
After a series of contract announcements last week, hooker Richard Hibbard is the latest Gloucester Rugby player to commit to a new contract at the club and told GRTV how much he enjoys playing in the Cherry and White of Gloucester.
A try scorer in the 36-18 Aviva Premiership win over Wasps at Kingsholm on Saturday, Charlie Sharples admitted that Gloucester would enjoy the moment but can't get too carried away. The team got what they deserved but the winger wants these performances to be more frequent.
England Head Coach Eddie Jones has made two changes to his side to play Australia in Saturday's final match of the Old Mutual Wealth Series at Twickenham Stadium (kick-off 2.30pm, live on Sky Sports 2). Jonny May lines up on the left wing.