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.
Tom Savage delivered a Man of the Match performance against Exeter Chiefs on his birthday on Saturday evening. He spoke to GRTV after the game about the importance of the European Rugby Challenge Cup win.
Speaking to the local media this week, John Afoa described the hard work that the Cherry and White have been putting in and that he is fighting fit ready for Saturday's European Rugby Challenge Cup semi final clash with Exeter Chiefs.
Gloucester Rugby face Exeter Chiefs this Saturday in the European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final, and Charlie Sharples, who starts at full back is relishing the challenge of the big Kingsholm occasion.
Gloucester meet the Exeter Chiefs for the fourth time in competitive action this weekend, this time in the semi-final of the European Rugby Challenge Cup. Director of Rugby David Humphreys told the local media this week that this is the sort of game that Gloucester want to be involved in on a regular basis and that he and his team are looking forward to it.
Following the 29-26 loss to Harlequins, club captain Billy Twelvetrees spoke of his disappointment that the Cherry and Whites were unable to cash in on the home side's indiscipline and lose a lead on Saturday afternoon.
Number eight Gareth Evans admitted to a collective feeling of frustration as Gloucester lost narrowly at Harlequins on Saturday, but insisted that there are plenty of positives to draw upon ahead of next Saturday's European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final at home to Exeter.
The Gloucester Rugby Ticket office can advise that the club's initial allocation of tickets for the European Rugby Challenge Cup Final has sold out. However, the club has secured an additional allocation of tickets from EPCR which will go on sale on Monday.
Following Saturday evening's exciting European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final victory over Exeter Chiefs, the Ticket Office at Kingsholm will be open on Sunday from 11am to 3pm for Club Members to purchase tickets for the Final.
Gloucester Rugby qualified for their first European final since 2006 as they defeated the in-form Exeter Chiefs by 30 points to 19 in a thrilling semi-final at Kingsholm on Saturday evening. The club photographer caught the best of the action.
Recent meetings between these two teams have often been thrillers, and this was no exception. It went down to the final few minutes, but Gloucester produced the goods when it mattered to qualify for the European Rugby Challenge Cup Final, beating Exeter 30-19.