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.
Speaking after the 37-8 European Rugby Challenge Cup win over Benetton Treviso, James Hook admitted that the Italian side made things tough for Gloucester at times but that the Cherry and Whites are happy to take the bonus point win and turn their focus to Northampton next week.
Speaking to GRTV after the game, Backs Coach Tim Taylor was happy with the squad as they cruised to victory over Treviso. The result wasn't in doubt, but the Cherry and Whites laboured to secure a crucial try bonus point.
Speaking to the local media this week, Gloucester Rugby centre Matt Scott is excited to take the field again as the Cherry and Whites look to build on the win in Bayonne when Treviso come to Kingsholm this Saturday.
Defence Coach Jonny Bell admitted this week that the European Rugby Challenge Cup victory in Bayonne was a welcome one, stressed that Benetton Treviso will pose a tough test on Saturday at Kingsholm but that Gloucester are determined to deliver in front of their own fans.
Motu Matu'u is looking to make up for lost time this week as the Cherry and Whites head to Basque Country to take on Bayonne in the European Rugby Challenge Cup opener. The Samoan hooker made his first appearance in the jersey last weekend, and is hoping to contribute to the team this weekend.
Gloucester's attentions turn to Europe this weekend as they travel to Bayonne for their opening fixture of this season's European Rugby Challenge Cup. Forwards Coach Trevor Woodman told GRTV that the Cherry and Whites will be aiming to top their pool as they've done for the past two seasons, but is well aware of how tough it is to win in France.
Although understandably disappointed at seeing victory slip away at the last minute, Ben Morgan said after the game at Exeter that there were plenty of positives that Gloucester could take from the game.
Gloucester made it two wins from two outings in this season's European Rugby Challenge Cup as they outplayed Benetton Treviso at Kingsholm to win by 37 points to 8, the bonus point try coming with the final play of the game.