A number of Gloucester players have been selected for England's Churchill Cup tournament squad for the trip to North America in June.
Gloucester's Phil Vickery, James Simpson-Daniel, Andy Hazell and James Forrester have all been named in the touring party.
Andy Gomarsall, who leaves Kingsholm for Worcester in the summer, is named as vice captain, and Mike Tindall, who joins Gloucester in the summer from Bath, are also named.
Vickery and Tindall join Newcastle's Jonny Wilkinson for the journey to Edmonton, with both also named by Sir Clive Woodward as possible Lions, depending upon fitness.
Adam Balding and Alex Brown miss out on selection after being on the fringes over the course of the last season. Henry Paul also misses out after suffering a season-ending knee injury.
Pat Sanderson, the Worcester Warriors captain, crowns an impressive season with his club in the Zurich Premiership, by being named captain for England's 26 man Churchill Cup squad, with Andy Gomarsall of Gloucester as vice captain.
Andy Farrell, who joins Saracens at the beginning of June, has not been named as an official member of the tour party to Canada.
England head coach Andy Robinson has chosen his assistant coach Joe Lydon to lead the squad to Canada whilst he is with the Lions in New Zealand. Robinson has no doubt he is leaving the squad in safe hands.
"Joe will do a great job and leads a strong management team to Edmonton. We're expecting this to be an outstanding group of players and it's an important tour for England.
"When choosing who should captain the side, although a player like Phil Vickery, who has captained England in the past was a consideration along with other candidates, it was felt most appropriate to name Pat Sanderson. He has played and captained his club regularly this season and to great effect and he thoroughly deserves leading England in June.
"I think it's right that Wilkinson, Tindall and Vickery are announced in our squad today. If any of them are later called up for Lions duty then great, they will go with our blessing and if not, they will all benefit from being on the Churchill Cup tour."
England assistant coach, Joe Lydon, who leads England's coaching team in Canada, is aware of the tour's importance in progressing England players' careers.
"This is a tour with a serious purpose for England, very much looking to the future. There's a nice blend of experience and young talent involved. You only need to look at who toured North America in 2001, the likes of Martin Corry, Josh Lewsey, Lewis Moody, Ben Kay and Julian White, to realise how the Churchill Cup can be a springboard for so many famous careers.
"We decided to rest some key players this summer who played a large part in the recent RBS 6 Nations, such as Jamie Noon, Joe Worsley and Mark Cueto, so they can be fully prepared for next season and the important autumn Tests. Others such as Alex King, Leon Lloyd and Andy Beattie could not be considered because of injuries. This is also the first England call up for Stuart Hooper, who has shown great form for his club, Leeds Tykes."
27 year-old Pat Sanderson (Worcester Warriors) was one of those players who went on the 2001 tour to North America. He also took part in last year's Churchill Cup and is thrilled to be chosen as captain this year.
"I'm overjoyed by the news, just thrilled really. It's a wonderful way to start the week and with the likes of Andy Gomarsall as Vice Captain and Mike Tindall on the tour there'll be a lot of experience and support on board. This is a great set of players and the Churchill Cup is a good tour to bring on new talent as well.
"Joe Lydon is a great motivator of men and has been fantastic to be around when he was involved in England Sevens. We're going to Canada to win and anything less would be a disappointment for us."
This is the third year of the Churchill Cup tournament. England depart on 9th June and play Canada on 19th June, with the USA v Argentina earlier the same day. The final takes place one week later.
ENGLAND CHURCHILL CUP SQUAD BARKLEY, Olly - Bath
BELL, Chris - Leeds Tykes
CHUTER George - Leicester Tigers
DEACON, Louis - Leicester Tigers
FORRESTER, James - Gloucester
FRESHWATER, Perry - Perpignan
GOMARSALL, Andy - Gloucester (Vice Captain)
GOODE, Andy - Leicester Tigers
GREEN, Will - London Wasps
GREENING, Phil - London Wasps
HAZELL, Andy - Gloucester
HOOPER, Stuart - Leeds Tykes
JONES, Chris -Sale Sharks
MONYE, Ugo - NEC Harlequins
PALMER, Tom - Leeds Tykes
RICHARDS, Peter - London Wasps
SACKEY, Paul - London Wasps
SANDERSON, Pat - Worcester Warriors (Captain)
SIMPSON-DANIEL, James - Gloucester
TAIT, Mathew - Newcastle Falcons
TINDALL, Mike - Bath
VICKERY, Phil - Gloucester
VOYCE, Tom - London Wasps
VYVYAN, Hugh - Saracens
WILKINSON, Jonny - Newcastle Falcons
WORSLEY, Mike - NEC Harlequins
PLAYERS ON STAND BY BEMAND, Scott - Leicester Tigers
BIRKETT, Richard - London Wasps
DOWSON, Phil - Newcastle Falcons
ERINLI, Ayoola - London Wasps
HIGGINS, Andy - Bath
MEARS, Lee - Bath
PERRY, Matt - Bath
SHELLEY, Mike - Leeds Tykes
WARD, Micky - Newcastle Falcons
RESTED OR INJURED BEATTIE, Andy - Bath
BELL, Duncan - Bath
COHEN, Ben - Northampton Saints
CUETO, Mark - Sale Sharks
ELLIS, Harry - Leicester Tigers
FLATMAN, David - Bath
LLOYD, Leon - Leicester Tigers
KING, Alex - London Wasps
NOON, Jamie - Newcastle Falcons
SHAW, Simon - London Wasps
WORSLEY, Joe - London Wasps
Speaking to the local media this week, Richard Hibbard expressed his excitement ahead of the West Country derby and that there is an extra spring in the step of the Cherry and Whites ahead of the tough challenge.
With such a short turnaround between the two games, and Gloucester looking to reintegrate several players into the line-up after the Autumn international series, Tom Savage told GRTV that the Cherry and Whites will keep changes to a minimum for the European Rugby Challenge Cup game in Zebre on Saturday.
Gloucester travel to Italy this weekend to take on Zebre in Round Four of the European Rugby Challenge Cup. The Cherry and Whites defeated the Italian side 35-10 last Sunday, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys is looking for an improved performance in the return fixture.
On a tough evening at Kingsholm, Gloucester could escape neither a suffocating Bath defence, nor the whistle of referee Greg Garner as six penalties and a penalty try paved the way to a 39-16 win for the visitors.
Gloucester Rugby welcome Sione Kalamafoni, Greig Laidlaw and Tom Palmer back to the starting line up and feature David Halaifonua in a matchday squad for the first time, as they resume Aviva Premiership action against Bath Rugby at Kingsholm on Saturday (kick off 5:30pm).