PHIL VICKERY freely admits he is 'starting from scratch' again when he makes his first start of the season against Calvisano on Saturday. The official site rounds up all the team news for this weekend's clash with the Italians at Kingsholm (kick-off 3pm).
The tighthead prop has been included in a strong line-up unveiled by head coach Dean Ryan for the first pre-season encounter at Kingsholm - fresh from becoming a father for the first time at the end of last month.
His daughter Megan Olivia was born on July 29 and as he revealed that the impetus of becoming a father can boost his rugby too.
Vickery has not played since shattering his arm against Bath in the Premiership last February and has since undergone an extensive period of rehabilitation throughout the end of last season and the summer.
And he now gets the chance to get much needed match practice under his belt before the Guinness Premiership starts on September 4 away at Worcester.
"The birth of Megan has given me a new chapter in my life," he told www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk. "It is one of those things you simply cannot explain and now I am looking forward to getting back into a game.
"I know I start virtually from scratch but I just want to get out there and get on with it and get some matches under my belt and I want to play as many as I can. It has obviously been tremendously frustrating but I just want to get on with the season.
"It has been a good summer for me and I am positive looking forward.
"Vickery will be joined in the front row by Welsh international Mefin Davies and loosehead prop Nick Wood.
Adam Eustace partners Alex Brown in the second row, while hugely talented breakaway James Merriman gets his opportunity on the openside in a back row that will also contain skipper Adam Balding and Peter Buxton.
Ryan has named an experimental but highly talented backline that includes Henry Paul and James Simpson-Daniel. Paul will line-up in the centre alongside 18 year-old Jack Adams, who made such a good impression during the Issoire Tournament.
Scrum-half Haydn Thomas is partnered by new skills coach Duncan McRae at half-back, while Mark Foster and Rob Thirlby complete the back three alongside Simpson-Daniel.
The bench also contains a vast array of firepower including an entire front row. Olivier Azam, Patrice Collazo and Gary Powell could all get some game time as could second row Jonathan Pendlebury.
Andy Hazell, who is free for selection following his seven-day ban following his red card against Leeds in the Issoire Tournament is also included.
Peter Richards, Ludovic Mercier and Jon Goodridge complete Gloucester's options.
GLOUCESTER v Calvisano, Saturday, Kingsholm 3pm:
Rob Thirlby; Mark Foster, Jack Adams, Henry Paul, James Simpson-Daniel; Duncan McRae, Haydn Thomas; Nick Wood, Mefin Davies, Phil Vickery, Adam Eustace, Alex Brown, Peter
Buxton, James Merriman, Adam Balding (capt).
Reps: Olivier Azam, Patrice Collazo, Gary Powell, Jonathan Pendlebury, Andy Hazell, Peter Richards, Ludovic Mercier, Jon Goodridge.
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.
Lewis Ludlow scored Gloucester's opening try in the 30-50 defeat at Bath on Saturday, part of an impressive performance by the young back row forward. Speaking after the game, he paid tribute to the young Gloucester side who went toe to toe with the Aviva Premiership semi-finalists.
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.