LESLEY VAINIKOLO will jump straight back into Gloucester's starting line-up for Sunday's Heineken Cup pool decider against Ulster at Kingsholm (1pm).
Following a period of mourning following the death of his father in New Zealand, Vainikolo makes an immediate return to Gloucester colours and is desperate to turn his attentions towards his rugby before meeting up with the England squad next week.
"I have been fortunate to have received a great deal of support but I am really happy to be back, be around the boys again and thinking about rugby," Vainikolo said.
"It's great I have an opportunity this weekend and I want to go out and repay the faith people have in me. There is a job to do on Sunday and we must make sure we achieve it."
Vainikolo did not feature against either Bath or the Ospreys but has scored nine tries in nine appearances so far this season.
He comes in on the wing for Leon Lloyd as head coach Dean Ryan makes five other changes to the team that lost 32-15 at the Liberty Stadium.
There is a double change at half-back where Rory Lawson and Chris Paterson come in for Ryan Lamb and Gareth Cooper, Nick Wood returns at loose-head in place of Christian Califano, Olivier Azam starts at hooker and Alasdair Strokosch wears six to enable Peter Buxton to move into the second row following the loss of Alex Brown with a broken arm.
"I think it shows the strength of our squad that we are able to rotate two players of the quality of Ryan and Chris," said head coach Ryan. "Chris is a guy of proven international quality and has a wonderful record. We are hugely fortunate to have him for a game of this calibre and in these conditions.
"He is streetwise and experienced and they are crucial qualities."
Of Vainikolo's return, Ryan added: "We have a support structure in place because he has obviously been through a very tough time. But he is a very positive guy and I am sure he will channel it into a performance.
"He handles himself very well and is really keen to get back onto the pitch with us."
Lawson, who scored a try at the Liberty, has made 13 appearances in all competitions this season, while Cooper and Lamb both move to the bench.
The rest of Ryan's backline remains intact which means Anthony Allen and Mike Tindall partner each other in midfield and James Simpson-Daniel and Iain Balshaw complete a back three alongside Vainikolo.
Up front, Wood returns following a hamstring strain and will partner Olivier Azam and Carlos Nieto in the front row.
Buxton will make his ninth appearance of the season at lock and skipper Bortolami will wear five. Strokosch, Akapusi Qera and Gareth Delve are the back row.
"Despite the defeat last weekend we are in a good position and know a victory will take us through," Ryan added. "But it is up to us to go out and produce a performance that will help us earn it."
GLOUCESTER (v Ulster, Sunday. 1pm): Iain Balshaw; James Simpson-Daniel, Mike Tindall, Anthony Allen, Lesley Vainikolo, Chris Paterson, Rory Lawson, Nick Wood, Olivier Azam, Carlos Nieto, Peter Buxton, Marco Bortolami (capt), Alasdair Strokosch, Akapusi Qera, Gareth Delve. Reps: Andy Titterrell, Christian Califano, Will James, Luke Narraway, Gareth Cooper, Ryan Lamb, Willie Walker.
There are still tickets available for Sunday's game and they can be purchased online at www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk or from the ticket hotline number on 0871 871 8781 (option 2).
With such a short turnaround between the two games, and Gloucester looking to reintegrate several players into the line-up after the Autumn international series, Tom Savage told GRTV that the Cherry and Whites will keep changes to a minimum for the European Rugby Challenge Cup game in Zebre on Saturday.
Gloucester travel to Italy this weekend to take on Zebre in Round Four of the European Rugby Challenge Cup. The Cherry and Whites defeated the Italian side 35-10 last Sunday, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys is looking for an improved performance in the return fixture.
Skipper Billy Twelvetrees, speaking to GRTV after the 35-10 over Zebre, was happy with the bonus point win over the Italian side but admitted Gloucester will need to tighten up for the return fixture in Parma.
Gloucester Rugby welcome Sione Kalamafoni, Greig Laidlaw and Tom Palmer back to the starting line up and feature David Halaifonua in a matchday squad for the first time, as they resume Aviva Premiership action against Bath Rugby at Kingsholm on Saturday (kick off 5:30pm).