ROB THIRLBY will start at full-back for Gloucester in Sunday's European Challenge Cup final against London Irish at the Twickenham Stoop (12.15pm).
He will replace Olly Morgan who has a fractured jaw and Jon Goodridge, who underwent surgery on his left shoulder last Friday to remove a bone spur.
"It's unfortunate for Olly Morgan that he got injured when he did but now it's a great opportunity for me - I have waited for a chance for a long time and it's fantastic that it will be in a final, in the last game of the season.
"Any final is a big occasion and everybody wants to win and do the best they can. It doesn't matter if it's the Hong Kong Sevens, the Premiership final or a European final, we are desperate to win.
"Mike Anthony has kept me in good shape and I am relishing the opportunity."
Thirlby's last start was against Bucuresti in January and he has not played at full-back since October against Bristol in the Powergen Cup.
But head coach Dean Ryan told www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk that Thirlby's inclusion will maintain Gloucester's attacking threat against the Irish.
"We have no other options at full-back because of Olly's injury and an operation to Jon Goodridge last week. But Rob Thirlby's attacking flair is ideally suited to this weekend.
"Rob's inclusions maintains our intentions to be attacking and I think it is a very exciting prospect to see him involved in our back line."
Thirlby's inclusion is the only change to Gloucester's line-up that was narrowly defeated in their last Guinness Premiership match against Wasps earlier this month.
James Simpson-Daniel, who has eight tries in five European games this season, and Mark Foster have been named on the wings, while Anthony Allen and Mike Tindall form the centre partnership.
Ryan Lamb, who has made only seven appearances this season, starts at stand-off and Peter Richards is named at scrum-half.
The forwards also have a familiar look with Patrice Collazo, Mefin Davies and Jack Forster in the front row, Jonathan Pendlebury and Alex Brown at lock and Peter Buxton (captain), Andy Hazell and James Forrester in the back row.
"Our only thought is about winning the game," Ryan added. "Over the last eight or 10 months we have evolved a group of people who want to take Gloucester forward.
"Nothing seems to phase this group - it doesn't matter of it's a game at Welford Road or Sale - they just have bags of enthusiasm and confidence and take everything in their stride.
"We have to manage the expectations and ambitions but it is a hugely invigorating group of players to be around and it will be great for them this weekend."
The bench will be made up from Olivier Azam, Gary Powell, who will return from a shoulder injury, Luke Narraway and Adam Eustace up front, while Haydn Thomas, Ludovic Mercier and James Bailey are the three-quarter options.
GLOUCESTER (v London Irish, Sunday, 12.15pm): Rob Thirlby; James Simpson-Daniel, Mike Tindall, Anthony Allen, Mark Foster; Ryan Lamb, Peter Richards; Patrice Collazo, Mefin Davies, Jack Forster, Jonathan Pendlebury, Alex Brown, Peter Buxton (capt), Andy Hazell, James Forrester. Reps: Olivier Azam, Gary Powell, Adam Eustace, Luke Narraway, Haydn Thomas, Ludovic Mercier, James Bailey.
THE SHED Bar at Kingsholm will be open all day on Sunday with drinks promotions and a disco.
Speaking with the local media before the Gloucester team set off on the long trip north to Newcastle, Director of Rugby David Humphreys discussed his team selection and stated that Friday night's meeting will be a challenging one.
Speaking to the local media on Thursday, Matt Kvesic was looking forward to the trip to Newcastle Falcons, and the captain is looking to lead from the front with plenty for the Cherry and Whites to work on.
Gloucester saw a 12-0 lead overturned by Harlequins on Friday night as the visitors ran out 22-15 winners. After the game, Director of Rugby David Humphreys spoke about missed opportunities on the night.
Speaking to the local media on Thursday, James Hudson explained his excitement for tonight's game with Harlequins and that he is backing the Cherry and White squad to impress during the next set of Aviva Premiership games.
Elton John and his band will visit the home of Gloucester Rugby, Kingsholm Stadium on Sunday 7 June as part of their European tour. This will be Elton's first ever performance in Gloucester and tickets are on general sale from 9am on Friday.
Mitcheldean finance specialist Simplicity is proud to become the latest sponsor of Gloucester Rugby. Keen-eyed supporters will notice Simplicity's PayrollSimply logo on Gloucester's ball boy bibs, stadium billboards and programme adverts.