MIKE TINDALL will return to club colours tomorrow in the European Challenge Cup - with a glowing endorsement of his qualities from his club coach Dean Ryan.
In a week when England's head coach Andy Robinson named a 36-man training squad ahead of the opening Six Nations clash of the season against Wales, Tindall will be the focal of a Gloucester side aiming for the knockout stages of European competition.
They are already assured of a place in the quarter-finals but Ryan's men are aiming for a home draw in the last eight against visitors Bayonne (2pm kick-off).
He has named a strong team that has Premiership experience written all over it. Ryan has made nine changes to the team that beat Bucuresti 27-13 last weekend and Tindall's return to the centre alongside Anthony Allen is highly significant.
"Mike is a player with whom you know exactly what you will get in big games and he never fails to deliver it," Ryan told www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk.
"Tins is a leading player for club and country, he knows his game inside out and I don't think it's fair to highlight any individual in a team who is trying to find its rhythm and style.
"He will play a significant role for us tomorrow and his experience will be crucial as the season progresses. It is great for us to have him around.
"He leads by example, has great enthusiasm and dedication and will form an exciting partnership with Anthony Allen."
Allen is one of only two members of the backline to retain his place from last Saturday. Marcel Garvey is the other after James Simpson-Daniel was deemed unfit following a blow to the head against Saracens.
Olly Morgan returns at full-back, Mark Foster comes in for Rob Thirlby on the wing and Ludovic Mercier and Peter Richards form the regular half-back partnership.
Up front, there is an all-new front row. Patrice Collazo, Mefin Davies and Gary Powell all return, while Alex Brown partners Adam Eustace at lock.
The back row is unchanged with means Peter Buxton continues as skipper on the blindside flank, Jake Boer starts at openside and Luke Narraway gets another run at number eight because of a knee injury to Adam Balding.
"We are continually working in a competitive environment and regardless of the situation, we have players really pushing for selection," Ryan added.
"We are under no illusions about the task ahead of us this weekend. Bayonne can still qualify, they will have a big set-piece, look to attack the scrum and line-out and be very physical.
"They are in pretty good form too so this is certainly not a game we can simply expect to dominate - it's going to take some hard work."
On the bench, lock Jonathan Pendlebury returns from a neck injury and is joined by hooker Rob Elloway and prop Terry Sigley, who faces his third game in seven days.
Mark Cornwell is also included, while Rob Thirlby, Haydn Thomas and Simon Amor are the three-quarter options.
There are still tickets available for tomorrow's final pool clash and they are included in the season ticket package. The ticket office will open from 9am.
GLOUCESTER (v Bayonne, tomorrow, Kingsholm 2pm): Olly Morgan, Marcel Garvey, Mike Tindall, Anthony Allen, Mark Foster, Ludovic Mercier, Peter Richards, Patrice Collazo, Mefin Davies, Gary Powell, Adam Eustace, Alex Brown, Peter Buxton (capt), Jake Boer, Luke Narraway. Reps: Rob Elloway, Terry Sigley, Jonathan Pendlebury, Mark Cornwell, Haydn Thomas, Simon Amor, Rob Thirlby.
Speaking straight after the game, skipper Billy Twelvetrees told GRTV that losing at home to Bath, in front of a tremendous home support, was desperately disappointing and that the whole team were hurting in the dressing room.
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.
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.