GLOUCESTER will go in search of a second successive EDF Energy Cup victory tomorrow and have named a strong side to face the Newport Gwent Dragons at Kingsholm (3pm).
Following an opening round victory over Wasps (24-19) earlier this month, Gloucester's head coach Dean Ryan has been forced into a number of alterations because of injury but keeps faith with the backbone of the side that lost to Cardiff in the Heineken Cup last week.
At half-back, Rory Lawson will partner Willie Walker after injuries ruled our Ryan Lamb (pelvis) and Gareth Cooper (neck).
James Simpson-Daniel will undergo surgery on damaged ligaments in his right ankle next week which means Mark Foster comes into wear the 14 shirt. He will complete a back three alongside full-back Iain Balshaw, who has scored five tries in his last three appearances, and Lesley Vainikolo.
Mike Tindall will skipper the side from centre alongside Olly Barkley, who will wear the number 12 shirt.
Ryan has also made changes to his forward pack. Alasdair Dickinson, impressive against the Blues, will line-up alongside fellow Scotland international, hooker Scott Lawson, who will make his second start in Gloucester colours, and tight-head prop Carlos Nieto.
Adam Eustace will start for the first time this season in the second row alongside Marco Bortolami after a foot injury ruled out Alex Brown.
In the back row, Peter Buxton continues at blindside, Andy Hazell returns in the number seven shirt and Alasdair Strokosch shifts to number eight because of the hamstring injury to Luke Narraway.
Gloucester are still without Olly Morgan (hamstring), Anthony Allen (ankle) and Matthew Watkins (knee).
"I have said before we are taking this competition very seriously - we are facing a fellow Heineken Cup side and many aspects of the contest with resemble Europe - this is not something we are taking lightly," said head coach Dean Ryan.
"We want to be successful week on week, regardless of the opposition or competition. That is how you build a competitive, durable side and tomorrow is a huge contest for us - there is no doubt about that.
"We need to show a reaction from the defeat against Cardiff and tomorrow represents a great opportunity to do that."
On the bench, Gloucester will welcome back hooker Andy Titterrell, who has not featured since being knocked out against Sale Sharks in the last week of September. He will be joined on the bench by prop Jack Forster, lock Dan Williams and Apo Satala.
In the backs, Ryan has drafted in two players from the Academy. Scrum-half Dave Lewis will be joined by Tristan Roberts, a stand-off, who has also played for Cinderford this season.
Centre Jack Adams completes the options.
GLOUCESTER (v Newport Gwent Dragons, tomorrow, 3pm): Iain Balshaw; Mark Foster, Mike Tindall (capt), Olly Barkley, Lesley Vainikolo; Willie Walker, Rory Lawson; Alasdair Dickinson, Scott Lawson, Carlos Nieto, Adam Eustace, Marco Bortolami, Peter Buxton, Andy Hazell, Alasdair Strokosch. Reps: Andy Titterrell, Jack Forster, Dan Williams, Apo Satala, Dave Lewis, Tristan Roberts, Jack Adams.
There are still tickets available for the game tomorrow and they are available from www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk, the ticket hotline number on 0871 871 8781 (option 2) or from the ticket office.
Speaking after the 15-11 win over Bath at the Rec on Friday evening, David Humphreys heaped praise on his players, pointing out how they had bounced back after last week's tough defeat to overcome a rough start before controlling the game and earning the win.
Gloucester Rugby hooker Richard Hibbard spoke to the local media this week as the Cherry and Whites prepare to face Bath Rugby in the Aviva Premiership. The Welshman is ready to bounce back at The Rec.
Speaking to the local media about the local derby against Bath at the Rec on Friday evening, Director of Rugby David Humphreys acknowledged that it will be a tough encounter but hugely exciting at the same time and one the squad are looking forward to.
A visibly disappointed Billy Twelvetrees admitted that it was a very sombre Gloucester dressing room as a last minute try and conversion condemned the Cherry and Whites to an 18-19 defeat against Leicester Tigers on Saturday.
A disappointed Tom Savage told GRTV, after the 18-19 defeat at home to the Leicester Tigers, that the whole Gloucester team had put in a fantastic effort, but just couldn't find the extra one or two percent necessary to put away a top side.
Speaking after the narrow loss to Leicester Tigers on Saturday afternoon, David Humphreys says despite there being a lot of good in Gloucester's performance, he rued the failure to close the game out, as well as thanking the home support
Kiwi second row Jeremy Thrush is thoroughly enjoying his time in Cherry and White so far, and this weekend the Leicester Tigers are the visitors to Kingsholm, and the All Black is massively excited about the challenge.
After two wins in the European Rugby Challenge Cup, securing a home quarter-final, David Humphreys told the local media this week that Gloucester are coming into Saturday's game in good physical shape having rotated the squad. However, he and the squad are prepared for a tough encounter against the Tigers.
Speaking to GRTV after the 14-11 win in Zebre on Saturday, Bill Meakes acknowledged that Zebre had forced Gloucester to dig very deep to earn the win and made a point of thanking the tremendous travelling support.
It's almost four years since Gloucester won a Premiership game at the Rec against Bath. However, they got that monkey off their back on Friday evening with a hard-fought 15-11 win in testing conditions.
John Afoa returns to the Gloucester Rugby starting line up to take on Bath Rugby at the Rec in the Aviva Premiership on Friday evening, one of three changes to the side that started against Leicester last weekend.
Great news this afternoon as Cherry and White duo Mat Protheroe and Ollie Thorley have been named to start for England as they open up their Under 20 Six Nations campaign against Scotland in Glasgow this Friday
A number of Gloucester Rugby's Academy players will be part of a Hartpury Rugby squad which will travel to Pennyhill Park on Thursday to train with Eddie Jones' England side in their build up to take on Scotland.