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.
Speaking to the local media this week, front row forward John Afoa spoke of the squad's targets for this weekend's European Rugby Challenge Cup Quarter Final with Cardiff Blues at Kingsholm. Despite taking on new opponents, the squad know the focus is on themselves to get the job done as knockout rugby kicks in.
Gloucester-Hartpury Women take on West Park Leeds Ladies in the final of the Intermediate Cup Final on Saturday. Head Coach Susie Appleby took time out to preview the game and chat about the future for the team.
Number eight Ben Morgan admitted that the 32-14 Aviva Premiership win over Bristol on Friday evening hadn't been pretty at times, but that the win was based on everyone in the squad remaining united and working for each other.
Previewing Friday evening's local derby at Bristol, Interim Head Coach Jonny Bell told the local media that Gloucester's preparations have gone well and that the whole squad is united in trying to finish the season on a high.
Speaking to GRTV this week, Acting Head Coach Jonny Bell spoke of his pleasure in the efforts and intensity in training from the squad after a tricky few weeks. The team were preparing for big games with Bristol and Cardiff in coming weeks.
Willi Heinz was understandably and visibly disappointed when he spoke to GRTV after the 27-30 home defeat to Harlequins, apologising to the home support as the game slipped away after seemingly having the game under control.
In the aftermath of the Aviva Premiership victory over Bristol, Interim Head Coach Jonny Bell was able to look forward to this weekend's European Rugby Challenge Cup quarter-final against Cardiff Blues (Kingsholm, kick off 8:05pm).