GLOUCESTER will have their resources stretched to the limit tomorrow when they host London Irish in the Guinness Premiership (5.30pm).
Head coach Dean Ryan admitted he has never experienced such a drain on playing resources - Gloucester are without 10 players on international duty tomorrow - and as a result he will hand a Premiership debut to lock Dan Tuohy and include England Under-20 backs Charlie Sharples and Dan Norton on the bench.
"I have never known our resources stretched so far because of our contribution to international sides," Ryan said.
"I think it was impossible to plan back in September for the situation we have faced this week and the personnel we have been without as a result. We want to create an environment where players push for international honours but it has made our task even more difficult ahead of this game.
"But there is massive motivation for us to win a game that has big odds stacked against it. It is about maintaining the proud record and traditions we have of playing at Kingsholm, in front of our own supporters and with the need for a really vociferous response from the team and the crowd."
Ryan's front row will show two changes from the one that lost to Harlequins last weekend. Nick Wood will be partnered by hooker Andy Titterrell and prop Jack Forster because Carlos Nieto is on international duty.
Lock Alex Brown, who broke his jaw last Saturday, will be out of action for a month which means Gloucester unveil a new second row combination in Will James and Tuohy. Tuohy is an Ireland Under-21 international.
He has made 10 appearances on loan at Moseley this season and will be his first appearance in the senior squad.
Skipper Peter Buxton will revert back to the blindside flank and Andy Hazell returns at openside following a slight neck injury. Akapusi Qera will start his first game at number eight.
"We are fortunate that guys like Dan Tuohy, Charlie Sharples and Dan Norton have played regular rugby at Moseley this season and can step into our environment," Ryan added.
Outside the forwards, Gareth Cooper will make his sixth Premiership start of the season in place of Rory Lawson and he will partner Willie Walker at half-back. Gloucester are still monitoring Ryan Lamb's shoulder injury and he misses out for the second successive game.
In the centre, Anthony Allen will make his 16th Guinness Premiership appearance of the season. He has been a try scorer in Gloucester's defeats against Bristol and Harlequins and will be partnered by Jack Adams, who has also scored twice in his four appearances since returning from Moseley on loan because of Mike Tindall's injury.
Mark Foster, James Simpson-Daniel - a try scorer in Gloucester's last three games - and full-back James Bailey complete the back three.
"We are a proud squad and a proud team and I want that to come out in what we do tomorrow," Ryan added. "There have been issues in the last couple of games and we have worked hard on them this week.
"We are up against the form side in the country and that is plenty of motivation."
On the bench, Ryan includes two hookers - Olivier Azam and Jeremy Paul - prop Christian Califano and lock Jonathan Pendlebury.
Mike Prendergast comes back into the squad and will be joined by Sharples and Norton.
Sharples (18) is a member of Gloucester's Academy set-up and after leaving Wycliffe College at 16 joined St Peter's sixth form in the city. He was part of the side that won the Daily Mail Cup in 2006 and this season has scored four tries in 11 appearances for Moseley in Division One.
Last summer, he toured with England Under-18s to Australia and has been called up into the Under-20s squad this season.
Norton has been on loan at Moseley this season and is the club's leading try scorer with seven in 12 matches. He was part of the Gloucester squad that took part in the Middlesex Sevens this season and scored twice against Wasps.
GLOUCESTER (v London Irish, tomorrow, 5.30pm): James Bailey; James Simpson-Daniel, Jack Adams, Anthony Allen, Mark Foster; Willie Walker, Gareth Cooper; Nick Wood, Andy Titterrell; Jack Forster; Will James, Dan Tuohy, Peter Buxton (capt), Andy Hazell, Akapusi Qera. Reps: Olivier Azam, Christian Califano, Jonathan Pendlebury, Jeremy Paul, Mike Prendergast, Charlie Sharples, Dan Norton.
Jonny May's superb late score capped a thrilling 40-32 European play-off win over Connacht on Sunday. The winger spoke afterwards of his team's character and spirit as he looked ahead to one more week of rugby.
Speaking to GRTV this afternoon, Director of Rugby David Humphreys hailed the 'never say die' attitude of the team, after despite not being at their best, fighting back to take a 40-32 win after extra time over Connacht.
Jonny May continues on the wing on Sunday as Connacht come to town, and the England wing explains to the local media this week that he is delighted with his form and is looking forward to taking on Pat Lam's men.
Speaking to the local media this week, front rower John Afoa is familiar with the challenge of Connacht from his time in Belfast, and the World Cup winner is fully aware of the challenge they pose ahead of Sunday's meeting in the Champions Cup play off
Speaking ahead of Gloucester's European Rugby Champions play-off against Connacht on Sunday (Kingsholm, 3:30pm), Director of Rugby David Humphreys admitted that he's glad to have more players available than in recent weeks ahead of a tough fixture.
Nick Wood captained the Cherry and Whites on Saturday afternoon, and the experienced front rower expressed his pride in the young squad in defeat to Bath on the final day of the Aviva Premiership season.
Lewis Ludlow scored Gloucester's opening try in the 30-50 defeat at Bath on Saturday, part of an impressive performance by the young back row forward. Speaking after the game, he paid tribute to the young Gloucester side who went toe to toe with the Aviva Premiership semi-finalists.
Speaking to the local media after the game, Director of Rugby David Humphreys gave an honest assessment of the game, and expressed his pride in the way his young charges had performed against the title-chasing hosts.
Speaking to the local media this week, Gloucester Rugby scrum half Callum Braley is excited by the challenge of the West Country Derby, and the ex-Bristol man reveals the squad will be giving their all.
Gloucester Rugby is delighted to confirm that 18 year old Mat Protheroe, a product of Hartpury College and one of the brightest young talents in the English game, has signed a senior contract at Kingsholm.
At the recent London Irish game, personnel from the Imjin Barracks in Innsworth, including Gurkhas, were present, holding a collection to raise funds for ShelterBox to aid relief from the recent Nepal Earthquake Appeal.