ENGLAND pair Phil Vickery and Mike Tindall have been named as Gloucester's captain and vice-captain for tomorrow's Guinness Premiership clash against Sale Sharks.
Vickery made his first Premiership start since February in the opening weekend of action against Worcester last Sunday, while Tindall made his competitive debut following his switch from Bath.
But after Adam Balding sustained a triple fracture of his cheek against the Warriors, head coach Dean Ryan needed to find a replacement and he has opted for his Lions prop and England centre.
"In the absence of Adam Balding we needed real clarify in our leadership and we believe Vickery and Mike Tindall can provide us with that," Ryan said. "We have a number of excellent captaincy candidates but these two have proven records."
Vickery will lead a side that contains two changes from the one that drew 15-15 at Sixways. James Forrester replaces Balding at number eight, while Haydn Thomas comes in for Peter Richards at scrum-half.
There is still no place for the injured James Simpson-Daniel because of an ankle injury.
But Thomas has paid tribute to the 'awesome' contribution of coach Bryan Redpath as he prepares to make his first Kingsholm start tomorrow.
The former Exeter scrum-half will come into the Gloucester side to face Sale Sharks and immediately praised the contribution Redpath has had on his development following his summer switch from the Chiefs.
"Bryan has been brilliant, it's as simple as that," he told www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk "He has been awesome in the way he has worked on all parts of my game since I joined the club.
"There is so much to the scrum-half role I have worked on - from my service to general skills - and Bryan has been a massive help.
"I was always hoping I could make the step up and get a chance in the Premiership but I didn't necessarily expect to get a start so soon," he added. "I am sure I will be nervous but I have to try and control that.
"I have no doubt this is one of the biggest challenges of my career but I am really looking forward to getting out there onto Kingsholm."
GLOUCESTER v Sale Sharks, tomorrow, Kingsholm, 3pm: Jon Goodridge; Mark Foster, Mike Tindall, Henry Paul, Rob Thirlby; Ludovic Mercier; Haydn Thomas, Patrice Collazo, Olivier Azam, Phil Vickery (capt), Adam Eustace, Alex Brown, Peter Buxton, Andy Hazell, James Forrester. Reps: Mefin Davies, Gary Powell, Mark Cornwell, Jake Boer, Peter Richards, Duncan McRae, Jack Adams.
Speaking straight after the game, skipper Billy Twelvetrees told GRTV that losing at home to Bath, in front of a tremendous home support, was desperately disappointing and that the whole team were hurting in the dressing room.
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.
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).