Prop Patrice Collazo is back in action this weekend
HEAD coach Dean Ryan has made three changes to his side ahead of Gloucester's Guinness Premiership trip to Saracens on Sunday (1.30pm).
Prop Patrice Collazo, second row Jonathan Pendlebury and flanker Peter Buxton return to the side in place of Nick Wood, Adam Eustace and Andy Hazell respectively.
Hazell is ruled out because of a head injury sustained against Leeds Tykes last weekend which means Jake Boer moves to the openside and Buxton comes in on the blindside.
The experienced Collazo returns to the front row alongside Mefin Davies and skipper Phil Vickery, while Pendlebury gets another chance to impress with Alex Brown in the second row.
Both Jake Boer (ankle) and Mike Tindall (neck) have been passed fit to start at Vicarage Road. Welsh Under-21 skipper James Merriman steps up to the first team squad and will sit on the bench.
For the third game running, the back-line will remain unchanged.
Gloucester, who have lost their last four away Premiership matches, will be looking to strengthen their position in the top four and have already beaten Saracens (19-8) at Kingsholm in November.
However, they have only ever won twice at Vicarage Road (in 2002-3 and 2003-4) but Adam Balding acknowledged to www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk that Sunday's encounter is critical ahead of the rest of the season.
"I think in the last few weeks we have become more threatening with ball in hand and have defended in the manner we want to," Balding said. "We have definitely taken steps in the right direction but we need to get a victory at the weekend.
"We know we are capable of winning but it will be a very tough game. Saracens have got some big men, are exceptionally competitive and have a very good home record.
"This is a hugely important game for both teams, particularly with the Six Nations just around the corner. Although we beat Leeds last Saturday, it was a disappointing performance in many ways and something we are desperate to put right this weekend."
The contest could become a shootout between the two leading scorers in the Premiership. Gloucester's Ludovic Mercier currently leads the way with 143 points with Glen Jackson of Saracens close behind on 135.
The Shed bar will screen the game live on Sunday and the bar will be open from 12pm.
GLOUCESTER v Saracens (Sunday, January 8, 1.30pm, live on Sky): Olly Morgan; James Bailey, James Simpson-Daniel, Mike Tindall, Mark Foster; Ludovic Mercier, Peter Richards; Patrice Collazo, Mefin Davies, Phil Vickery (capt), Jonathan Pendlebury, Alex Brown, Peter Buxton, Jake Boer, Adam Balding. Reps: Terry Sigley, Rob Elloway, Adam Eustace, James Merriman, Haydn Thomas, Terry Fanolua, Brad Davies.
The bitter disappointment of losing against London Wasps in the Amlin Challenge Cup less than a fortnight ago, will give Gloucester ample motivation against the same opponent at Twickenham on Saturday says Director of Rugby Nigel Davies.
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Nigel Davies spoke to Gloucester Rugby TV following the gutting 17-18 reverse to Bath on Saturday afternoon. The Director of Rugby expressed his pride at the efforts from his players and thanked the supporters for their incredible backing.
Nick Wood spoke to Gloucester Rugby TV this week ahead of Saturday's West Country derby clash with Bath Rugby. The front rower called on the squad to make a strong start and get the Kingsholm crowd behind them
Director of Rugby Nigel Davies admits that it's been a tough week at Gloucester Rugby following defeat at London Wasps last weekend, but that he's looking for his team to rise to the occasion for the huge game at home to Bath Rugby on Saturday.
Speaking immediately after the 36-24 Amlin Challenge Cup defeat at London Wasps on Sunday evening, skipper Billy Twelvetrees admitted that Gloucester left themselves with too much to do despite a spirited second half comeback.
Nigel Davies spoke to Gloucester Rugby TV following the 36-24 defeat to London Wasps in the Amlin Challenge Cup Quarter Final. The Director of Rugby rued a lacklustre showing the first half despite a big second half display with ultimately came to nothing on a hugely frustrating night for the Cherry and Whites.
England Under 18s have named their side to take on Ireland in the final of the FIRA/AER European Championship as they bid for a third consecutive title in Wronki, Poland, on Saturday, kick off 3.30pm BST.
Ahead of this weekend's trip to Twickenham for The Stinger, there are plenty of videos on the way to preview the fixture vs London Wasps, as well as video reaction and unique Go Pro videos from the last 7 days of action.
Academy back rower Sam Underhill is readying to lead England Under 18s into battle for the final of the FIRA/AER European championships, and took time out of training to chat with the club website from their base in Poland.