MIKE TINDALL will lead Gloucester into their final pre-season game against Glasgow Warriors at Kingsholm tomorrow (2pm).
The England centre will skipper a powerful side and will welcome back stand-off Ryan Lamb, winger Iain Balshaw and full-back Olly Morgan to the three-quarter line and number eight Luke Narraway and openside flanker Andy Hazell to the forward pack.
It will be Gloucester's third pre-season game and following a victory over Canada A and a defeat against Bayonne last Tuesday, head coach Dean Ryan is looking for an improved performance ahead of their opening Guinness Premiership match against Leicester next Sunday.
"There is a great atmosphere and unity amongst the squad," Ryan said. "We have made it very clear that pre-season is based on performance and maximising what we can achieve from new combinations and relationships.
"But we have the opportunity to re-introduce some senior players tomorrow and that is pretty key moving forward. We have worked very hard in pre-season but we obviously want to see an improvement from the Bayonne game and we have the personnel in place to do that."
Up front, Nick Wood will be partnered by hooker Andy Titterrell and tight-head prop Carlos Nieto. Will James gets an opportunity to partner Alex Brown at lock, while Hazell, Peter Buxton and Narraway form the back row.
For Hazell and Narraway it will be their first appearances of the season. On the bench, Ryan will include hooker Olivier Azam, prop Dave Young, lock Marco Bortolami and flanker Alasdair Strokosch.
Behind the scrum, Gloucester have plenty of cutting edge. Scrum-half Gareth Cooper gets the nod in a half-back partnership with Lamb - who missed the Bayonne game with illness.
Tindall will lead the side from outside centre in a partnership with Anthony Allen, while Iain Balshaw, Lesley Vainikolo and Olly Morgan are the back three.
"Pre-season is about getting your best players available and at a level available for Leicester in the Guinness Premiership," Ryan added. "Tomorrow is a continuation of that process and I think we are in pretty good shape.
"It is important we keep moving forward so we are ready for the start of the Guinness Premiership.
Ryan's three-quarter replacements are scrum-half Rory Lawson, utility back Willie Walker, centre Matthew Watkins and winger James Simpson-Daniel.
GLOUCESTER (v Glasgow, tomorrow, 2pm): Olly Morgan; Iain Balshaw, Mike Tindall (capt), Anthony Allen, Lesley Vainikolo, Ryan Lamb, Gareth Cooper; Nick Wood, Andy Titterrell, Carlos Nieto, Will James, Alex Brown, Peter Buxton, Andy Hazell, Luke Narraway. Reps: Olivier Azam, Dave Young, Marco Bortolami, Alasdair Strokosch, Rory Lawson, Willie Walker, Matthew Watkins, James Simpson-Daniel.
The Gloucester Rugby Park & Ride facility from British Energy will still be operational for the next 2 home games (Glasgow and Leicester Tigers) even though road works will still be in place.
The park and ride will run from 12noon until kick off and recommence 15 minutes after final whistle for an hour and a half to the Barnwood site.
Supporters are reminded that tomorrow's game is included in the season ticket package.
Defence Coach Jonny Bell admitted this week that the European Rugby Challenge Cup victory in Bayonne was a welcome one, stressed that Benetton Treviso will pose a tough test on Saturday at Kingsholm but that Gloucester are determined to deliver in front of their own fans.
Motu Matu'u is looking to make up for lost time this week as the Cherry and Whites head to Basque Country to take on Bayonne in the European Rugby Challenge Cup opener. The Samoan hooker made his first appearance in the jersey last weekend, and is hoping to contribute to the team this weekend.
Gloucester's attentions turn to Europe this weekend as they travel to Bayonne for their opening fixture of this season's European Rugby Challenge Cup. Forwards Coach Trevor Woodman told GRTV that the Cherry and Whites will be aiming to top their pool as they've done for the past two seasons, but is well aware of how tough it is to win in France.
Although understandably disappointed at seeing victory slip away at the last minute, Ben Morgan said after the game at Exeter that there were plenty of positives that Gloucester could take from the game.
Speaking after a last-gasp try from Exeter earned the Chiefs a 27-27 draw at Sandy Park on Saturday, Charlie Sharples admitted to mixed feelings. The game saw him score a try on his 200th competitive appearance for the club, but the frustration from not closing out the win was clear.
David Humphreys was minutes away from a winning interview on Saturday afternoon, but a late try from Exeter Chiefs meant the points were shared at Sandy Park. Humphreys spoke with the local media after the 27-27 draw.
Speaking to the media ahead of Saturday's Aviva Premiership fixture away at Exeter Chiefs, Director of Rugby David Humphreys reiterated that there are elements of Gloucester's game that are in good shape at present, that the performance against Bath was a step forward from Newcastle but that individual errors are costing the Cherry and Whites dear.
Centre Matt Scott, a try-scorer in Bayonne last weekend, insists that Gloucester are taking nothing for granted when they welcome Benetton Treviso to Kingsholm on Saturday in the European Rugby Challenge Cup (kick off 3pm).