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.
Fly-half Billy Burns was named Man of the Match after the 35-14 European Rugby Challenge Cup victory over Stade Rochelais on Thursday evening, and was full of praise for all his team mates for the win after a short turnaround.
Gloucester have been in good form in recent weeks, but Backs Coach Tim Taylor knows that the Cherry and Whites will have to be at their best on Thursday evening (kick off 7:45pm) against a Stade Rochelais side flying high this season.
Speaking to GRTV after the bonus point win over Bristol, back row Lewis Ludlow revealed that despite a tricky first half, Gloucester backed their skills to come through, a faith that was evident in a strong second half showing.
Willi Heinz scored Gloucester's second try as the Cherry and Whites overturned a disappointing first 40 minutes and 0-6 half time deficit, to earn a 26-18 Aviva Premiership victory over Bristol Rugby on Saturday.
Gloucester's much changed side had to overcome conceding an early try on Thursday evening, but responded in style to down Stade Rochelais by 35 points to 14 in the European Rugby Challenge Cup and set up a mouthwatering return fixture next weekend.
After taking 11 points from their last three games in the Aviva Premiership, including bonus point wins against Wasps and Bristol, Gloucester will be looking to continue their good form when they welcome La Rochelle to Kingsholm.