CARLOS NIETO, the Italian tight-head prop, will make his first Gloucester start tomorrow against Leinster in the Heineken Cup at Lansdowne Road (5.30pm).
The set-piece specialist will also make his Heineken Cup debut after successfully returning from a shoulder injury in Gloucester's 33-24 victory over Worcester in the Guinness Premiership last Friday.
Nieto will line-up in an all-international front row alongside Welshman Mefin Davies and loose-head Christian Califano, who has 33 European Cup games to his name after spells with Toulouse and Agen and replaces Nick Wood.
"The fact that Nick Wood is not starting is not a selection issue because all the three props will play a significant part in the game," head coach Dean Ryan told www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk
"I have been delighted with Nick's form - he has been fantastic for us this season - but a little bit of extra experience will be crucial."
Ryan is also able to welcome back Italian skipper Marco Bortolami in the second row and he will partner Adam Eustace, who has made 21 competition appearances.
The back row trio of Peter Buxton, breakaway Andy Hazell and number eight James Forrester, who was named September's Guinness Premiership player of the month, is unchanged.
There is also continuity to the backline and it remains unchanged from the one that triumphed at Sixways.
The only alteration comes on the bench, where Rudi Keil is preferred to Mike Tindall, who has yet to fully shake off a calf injury. Explaining the decision, Ryan added: "Last Friday was an indicator of where we felt Mike was with his calf injury and at the moment we feel we don't want to risk him in a Heineken Cup match of this intensity."
In the backs, four players will be making their debuts. Stand-off Ryan Lamb, centres Jack Adams and Anthony Allen (all 20) and wing Mark Foster will gain their first experience in the competition.
Full-back Iain Balshaw has made 19 appearances in the competition for Bath, while Peter Richards has played for four different clubs in the European Cup.
"Being part of this tournament was a reward for what we managed to achieve last season," Ryan said of his Challenge Cup victors. "I don't think there is any greater stage than Lansdowne Road in the Heineken Cup and it will obviously be a huge test for this team.
"In my opinion they produced the performance of the tournament last year when they beat Toulouse away and we obviously have a team with a low percentage of players who have been exposed to this competition.
"It will be an enormous challenge but I am sure we are capable of winning - I am sure we will learn more about this group on Saturday - it's a fantastic opportunity for everybody."
GLOUCESTER v (Leinster, tomorrow, Lansdowne Road, 5.30pm): Iain Balshaw; James Bailey, Jack Adams, Anthony Allen, Mark Foster; Ryan Lamb, Peter Richards; Christian Califano, Mefin Davies, Carlos Nieto, Marco Bortolami (capt), Adam Eustace, Peter Buxton, Andy Hazell, James Forrester. Reps: Nick Wood, Olivier Azam, Jonathan Pendlebury, Jake Boer, Rory Lawson, Ludovic Mercier, Rudi Keil.
Speaking after Gloucester's final preseason friendly, a 29-24 defeat away at Scarlets, Director of Rugby David Humphreys reflected upon a performance that will form a crucial part of the Cherry and Whites preparations for the Aviva Premiership opener at Northampton next week.
Speaking to the media after the 45-8 preseason friendly victory over Munster, Director of Rugby David Humphreys wasn't getting too carried away, admitting that his team are making progress but that there's still a way to go.
Billy Twelvetrees spoke to Gloucester Rugby TV on Friday ahead of the pre season friendly with Munster Rugby. The club captain is excited to be back in the action at Kingsholm and experience the atmosphere again.
Gloucester Rugby Director of Rugby David Humphreys spoke to the local media after the 62-19 victory over Yorkshire Carnegie, and showed his delight at the first run out and stated there was still lots to work on ahead of the new season
Mark Atkinson made his first appearance in Cherry and White in the pre season victory over Yorkshire Carnegie on Saturday. Speaking to the local media, he was impressed with the first experience of Kingsholm.
Gloucester Rugby kick off their Aviva Premiership campaign at Northampton Saints on Friday evening, and then return home to entertain the same opponent in the A League at Kingsholm on Monday September 8th.
Gloucester Rugby travelled to West Wales for their third and final preseason game ahead of the start of the Aviva Premiership next week. The Scarlets were the opposition and Gloucester left Parc y Scarlets on the wrong end of a 29-24 scoreline.