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.
Gloucester recorded a 32-20 win over La Rochelle on Thursday evening, and second row Jeremy Thrush was thrilled to pick up the victory on his first taste of a trip to France and the hostile atmosphere.
Gloucester were forced to battle for their 33-20 victory in La Rochelle on Thursday evening, something that centre Bill Meakes said that he and the squad were well prepared for as well as thanking the travelling support for the part they played.
Gloucester got off to a winning start in the European Rugby Challenge Cup last weekend, but Head Coach Laurie Fisher is expecting a much tougher challenge when the Cherry and Whites travel to La Rochelle for Thursday night's Round Two encounter.
Dan Thomas was a try scorer in the 14-62 defeat at the hands of the Barbarians on Tuesday evening, but told GRTV after the game that he'd really enjoyed taking on the Barbarians and locking horns with Ardie Savea at the breakdown.
After a long, hard battle to return to fitness, Henry Trinder made his long awaited comeback in the second half of the 23-10 win over Zebre on Saturday and admitted he was taken aback by the reception he got from the Kingsholm crowd.
21 year old number eight Lewis Ludlow formed part of a physical back row effort in the 23-10 European Rugby Challenge Cup over Zebre on Saturday. Speaking to GRTV after the game, he spoke of making the most of his chances and being happy to contribute to the Gloucester win.
Gloucester United kick off their Aviva Premiership A League campaign against Leicester Tigers at Welford Road on Monday evening (kick off 7pm) and have named a side which features lots of first team experience.