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.
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.