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.
As Gloucester prepare for their 39th game of the season, against Bordeaux-Begles at Sixways on Sunday, David Humphreys told the local media that this week has been all about getting the players mentally and physically ready after a tough game against Connacht last Sunday.
Speaking to GRTV after the 40-32 victory over Connacht on Sunday, skipper Billy Twelvetrees explained that Gloucester had had to learn to be patient and cut out the errors to earn the win and progress to next weekend's final play-off against Bordeaux-Begles.
Jonny May's superb late score capped a thrilling 40-32 European play-off win over Connacht on Sunday. The winger spoke afterwards of his team's character and spirit as he looked ahead to one more week of rugby.
Speaking to GRTV this afternoon, Director of Rugby David Humphreys hailed the 'never say die' attitude of the team, after despite not being at their best, fighting back to take a 40-32 win after extra time over Connacht.
Jonny May continues on the wing on Sunday as Connacht come to town, and the England wing explains to the local media this week that he is delighted with his form and is looking forward to taking on Pat Lam's men.
Speaking to the local media this week, front rower John Afoa is familiar with the challenge of Connacht from his time in Belfast, and the World Cup winner is fully aware of the challenge they pose ahead of Sunday's meeting in the Champions Cup play off
Speaking ahead of Gloucester's European Rugby Champions play-off against Connacht on Sunday (Kingsholm, 3:30pm), Director of Rugby David Humphreys admitted that he's glad to have more players available than in recent weeks ahead of a tough fixture.
Nick Wood captained the Cherry and Whites on Saturday afternoon, and the experienced front rower expressed his pride in the young squad in defeat to Bath on the final day of the Aviva Premiership season.
The day has dawned and Madness will play Live at Kingsholm on Saturday evening. It's going to be an incredible night with a huge crowd but, if you haven't yet purchased, tickets are still available on the day.
Tongan international forward Sione Kalamafoni returns after injury to take up his usual place in the back row as Gloucester look to finish their season on a high against Bordeaux-Begles at Sixways on Sunday.
Gloucester Rugby is delighted to confirm that 18 year old Mat Protheroe, a product of Hartpury College and one of the brightest young talents in the English game, has signed a senior contract at Kingsholm.