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.
Steph Reynolds led from the front once again as Gloucester kicked off their Singha Premiership Rugby 7s campaign in style on Thursday evening. The flyer scored three tries but admitted that he left most of the team talk duties to others.
Olly Morgan led the Cherry and Whites to three wins out of three in Group B of the Singha Premiership Rugby 7s and he expressed his delight in the young members of the squad in excelling in front of a bumper Kingsholm crowd.
Olly Morgan leads the Gloucester Rugby Sevens squad this Thursday in the Singha Premiership Rugby 7s Series at Kingsholm, and he is backing the young side to take the opportunity with both hands as they take to the field.
Speaking to the local media this week, Henry Purdy explained the opportunity available for the Gloucester Rugby to lay down a marker in this summer's Singha Premiership Sevens Series, which kicks off at Kingsholm Stadium on Thursday 20 August.
Speaking to GRTV in front of the iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge, Henry Trinder explained how important the West Country Challenge Cup is going to be for the Cherry and Whites in their preseason preparations.