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 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.
Speaking after a last-gasp try from Exeter earned the Chiefs a 27-27 draw at Sandy Park on Saturday, Charlie Sharples admitted to mixed feelings. The game saw him score a try on his 200th competitive appearance for the club, but the frustration from not closing out the win was clear.
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.