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 ahead of Saturday's Aviva Premiership fixture at home to Newcastle Falcons (kick off 3pm), Director of Rugby David Humphreys emphasised the importance this weekend of Gloucester building on last week's impressive home victory against the Exeter Chiefs.
Speaking to the assembled national and local media, try-scorer Jonny May was delighted and relieved to have tasted victory on Saturday evening, and is looking forward to the European Rugby Challenge Cup final.
Tom Savage delivered a Man of the Match performance against Exeter Chiefs on his birthday on Saturday evening. He spoke to GRTV after the game about the importance of the European Rugby Challenge Cup win.
Speaking to the local media this week, John Afoa described the hard work that the Cherry and White have been putting in and that he is fighting fit ready for Saturday's European Rugby Challenge Cup semi final clash with Exeter Chiefs.
Gloucester Rugby face Exeter Chiefs this Saturday in the European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final, and Charlie Sharples, who starts at full back is relishing the challenge of the big Kingsholm occasion.
Gloucester meet the Exeter Chiefs for the fourth time in competitive action this weekend, this time in the semi-final of the European Rugby Challenge Cup. Director of Rugby David Humphreys told the local media this week that this is the sort of game that Gloucester want to be involved in on a regular basis and that he and his team are looking forward to it.
Following the 29-26 loss to Harlequins, club captain Billy Twelvetrees spoke of his disappointment that the Cherry and Whites were unable to cash in on the home side's indiscipline and lose a lead on Saturday afternoon.
Number eight Gareth Evans admitted to a collective feeling of frustration as Gloucester lost narrowly at Harlequins on Saturday, but insisted that there are plenty of positives to draw upon ahead of next Saturday's European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final at home to Exeter.
Gloucester Rugby return to Aviva Premiership action against the Newcastle Falcons on Saturday (Kingsholm, kick off 3pm), and make several changes to the side that defeated Exeter Chiefs at home last weekend.
With a fantastic rugby season coming to a thrilling climax and the prospect of the world's best battling it out in our back garden in September and October, there has never been a better time to quiz your Gloucester Rugby and home nation heroes on what makes them tick.