MARCO BORTOLAMI, the Italian national captain, will skipper Gloucester in their final pre-season game against Llanelli tomorrow (3pm).
The second row will get his first chance to lead the side in the run-up to the opening Guinness Premiership fixture against Bath on Saturday, September 2.
"Marco is not captain for the season," head coach Dean Ryan told www.gloucesterruby.co.uk. "We have a club captain in Peter Buxton but we are continually looking at options that potentially enlarge the group of individuals capable of leading the side.
"Marco is an experienced international player and it will be great to see what he can bring to the role."
Ryan has named a side of considerable strength and will hand a Gloucester debut to Iain Balshaw on the wing. He will be joined by Alex Brown, scrum-half Peter Richards, flanker Andy Hazell, full-back Olly Morgan and prop Nick Wood in their first pre-season games of the season.
"It would be naïve of anyone to think we can operate at the same levels without some of these guys and I am sure they will increase our intensity levels," Ryan said.
"We are a long way down the track in terms of what we want to achieve because these pre-season games have served a great purpose for us. It will be great to see people like Pete Richards and Andy Hazell back with us."
Wood will be joined in the front row alongside hooker Mefin Davies and Christian Califano, who will start at tighthead. Bortolami and Brown are at lock, while Buxton, Hazell and James Forrester complete the break-away trio.
Richards partners Willie Walker at half-back, while Jack Adams and Rudi Keil start in the centre. Balshaw, James Bailey and Morgan complete the back three.
"It's an exciting side and one I am looking forward to see in action," Ryan added. "Llanelli was a great test for us last week and we are anticipating another one tomorrow."
Gloucester will be without James Simpson-Daniel (shoulder), Carlos Nieto (shoulder) and Ryan Lamb (ankle).
They can also confirm that second row Jonathan Pendlebury yesterday underwent surgery on his AC joint in his left shoulder and will not be available for four weeks.
GLOUCESTER v Llanelli (tomorrow, 3pm): Olly Morgan; Iain Balshaw Jack Adams, Rudi Keil, James Bailey; Willie Walker, Pete Richards; Nick Wood, Mefin Davies, Christian Califano, Marco Bortolami (capt), Alex Brown, Peter Buxton, Andy Hazell, James Forrester. Reps: Jack Forster, Luke Narraway, Adam Balding, Will James, Olivier Azam, Rory Lawson, Ludovic Mercier, Brad Davies, Rob Thirlby.
Tickets will be available on the day from the ticket office that opens at 10am.
Gloucester-Hartpury Women take on West Park Leeds Ladies in the final of the Intermediate Cup Final on Saturday. Head Coach Susie Appleby took time out to preview the game and chat about the future for the team.
Number eight Ben Morgan admitted that the 32-14 Aviva Premiership win over Bristol on Friday evening hadn't been pretty at times, but that the win was based on everyone in the squad remaining united and working for each other.
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)
In the aftermath of the Aviva Premiership victory over Bristol, Interim Head Coach Jonny Bell was able to look forward to this weekend's European Rugby Challenge Cup quarter-final against Cardiff Blues (Kingsholm, kick off 8:05pm).