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.
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.
Speaking to the local media this week, Scottish centre Matt Scott spoke of the squad's determination to put in a big home performance against Harlequins, with vital points up for grabs in the hunt for a Top Six spot this Saturday (KO 3pm)
Looking ahead to Saturday's Aviva Premiership fixture at home to Harlequins (kick off 3pm), Head Coach Laurie Fisher told the local media that Gloucester will need to be on top of their game in a match which has big implications in terms of top six ambitions.
A big few days for the Gloucester-Hartpury Women side. First came the news that the team will compete in Women's Super Rugby next season, and on Saturday the team will play Worcester Ladies IIs at Kingsholm. Centre Hannah Jones and wing Michelle Ruddock spoke to GRTV this week to reflect on events.
Speaking to the local media after the 35-22 loss at Wasps, lock Tom Savage spoke of his disappointment at the result, with Gloucester left to rue a number of missed opportunities against a clinical home side.
Speaking after his return from England duty, Gloucester winger Jonny May reflected on England winning the Six Nations Championship, if not the Grand Slam, and what he needs to focus on to get back into the starting line-up.
Ross Moriarty started for Wales at the Stade de France on Saturday while Matt Scott was a replacement for Scotland. It was Scott who finished the day the happier, a try-scorer in a 29-0 victory over Italy.