ITALIAN skipper Marco Bortolami will be one of four summer signings who will make their Gloucester debuts in Friday's pre-season game against Saracens (7.30pm).
Bortolami will be joined in the second row by former Cornish Pirates lock Will James, while half-back pair Rory Lawson and Willie Walker will also start against the Londoners.
"I think it will be great to finally see some of our new and very exciting signings in a Gloucester shirt," head coach Dean Ryan told www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk
"I believe it shows our strength in depth this season and we will have plenty of players fighting for places which is exactly what we want.
"We have players who are desperate to pull on the shirt, get back into a match environment and prove they want to do well for this team."
Patrice Collazo will wear the number the number one shirt and form a front row alongside Olivier Azam, who will return from a shoulder injury at hooker and youngster Jack Forster.
In the back row, Peter Buxton will lead the side from the blindside flank, James Merriman gets a shot at the number seven shirt and Adam Balding wears number eight.
Former Edinburgh scrum-half Rory Lawson will partner Willie Walker at half-back, while Rudi Keil is named alongside Jack Adams in the centre.
Adams has not played since last season when he damaged cruciate knee ligaments against Saracens but he signed a new one-year contract extension last season and is regarded as one of the brightest youngsters in the squad.
Mark Foster, James Bailey and Ludovic Mercier complete the back three - Mercier getting a run at full-back.
"I think this team has some exciting combinations in this team and to see Bortolami, James and the other new signings in action is very exciting," Ryan added.
Jake Boer is out of contention for the opening rounds of the Guinness Premiership season after sustaining a blow to the knee during Junior Paramore's testimonial match at Bedford last Friday. The South African back row is expected to return to full training in three to four weeks.
GLOUCESTER v Saracens, Friday, August 11: Ludovic Mercier; James Bailey, Jack Adams, Rudi Keil, Mark Foster; Willie Walker, Rory Lawson; Patrice Collazo, Olivier Azam, Jack Forster, Will James, Marco Bortolami, Peter Buxton (capt), James Merriman, Adam Balding. Reps to be named.
Speaking to the local media this week, Richard Hibbard expressed his excitement ahead of the West Country derby and that there is an extra spring in the step of the Cherry and Whites ahead of the tough challenge.
With such a short turnaround between the two games, and Gloucester looking to reintegrate several players into the line-up after the Autumn international series, Tom Savage told GRTV that the Cherry and Whites will keep changes to a minimum for the European Rugby Challenge Cup game in Zebre on Saturday.
Gloucester travel to Italy this weekend to take on Zebre in Round Four of the European Rugby Challenge Cup. The Cherry and Whites defeated the Italian side 35-10 last Sunday, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys is looking for an improved performance in the return fixture.
On a tough evening at Kingsholm, Gloucester could escape neither a suffocating Bath defence, nor the whistle of referee Greg Garner as six penalties and a penalty try paved the way to a 39-16 win for the visitors.
Gloucester Rugby welcome Sione Kalamafoni, Greig Laidlaw and Tom Palmer back to the starting line up and feature David Halaifonua in a matchday squad for the first time, as they resume Aviva Premiership action against Bath Rugby at Kingsholm on Saturday (kick off 5:30pm).