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 to the local media this week ahead of the Bath Rugby game, Head Coach Laurie Fisher stressed that the fundamental shape of Gloucester's game is in good shape but that the Cherry and Whites have to look after the ball better and make more of their scoring opportunities.
Skipper for the day Willi Heinz faced the cameras after the 13-18 home loss to Newcastle and expressed real frustration at not being able to back up last week's win at Sale, calling it a performance he and his team-mates are not proud of.
Speaking after the game, Charlie Sharples described it as 'the win that has eluded us.' The winger stressed that Gloucester had stayed positive after the first couple of weeks of the Aviva Premiership season and the 26-13 victory over Sale was a result of that focus.
Gloucester Rugby picked up their first win of the new Aviva Premiership season on Friday night, easing to a 26-13 win on the road at Sale Sharks. Director of Rugby David Humphreys was full of praise for his players on the night.
Greig Laidlaw is back to skipper Gloucester Rugby in Saturday's Aviva Premiership derby game against Bath Rugby at Kingsholm. James Hook will make his first start of the season at full-back and Billy Twelvetrees will make his 100th competitive appearance for the club.