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.
It's the first Gloucester-Bristol derby at Kingsholm in over eight years this Saturday (kick off 4:30pm) and, previewing the game with the local media this week, Defence Coach Jonny Bell stressed that, with both teams in the bottom half of the table, they both need the points.
Speaking to the local media this week, Gloucester front rower John Afoa knows the challenge ahead this week against Bristol, and calls on the Cherry and Whites to make the most of home advantage as a determined squad look to bounce back from a narrow loss to Saracens.
Tom Savage speaks to GRTV and the local media as Gloucester went down by 24-20 at Saracens on Sunday afternoon. The second row was disappointed with the result, despite a strong showing from the hosts.
Speaking immediately after the game, skipper Willi Heinz thought that Gloucester had executed their game plan reasonably well and competed hard against Saracens. However, it wasn't enough but the squad will have plenty to work on this week ahead of the derby match against Bristol.
Gloucester may be coming off their best win of the season, the 38-16 victory over Wasps last weekend, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys admits that Sunday's trip to Saracens is an even tougher test.
After a series of contract announcements last week, hooker Richard Hibbard is the latest Gloucester Rugby player to commit to a new contract at the club and told GRTV how much he enjoys playing in the Cherry and White of Gloucester.
Talk about a game of two halves. Things looked grim on Saturday as Gloucester trailed 0-6 to Bristol at half-time. However, Matt Scott's eighth try of the season got Gloucester off and running, and the visitors fell apart as the Cherry and Whites eased to a 26-18 bonus point Aviva Premiership win.