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.
Gloucester-Hartpury Women take on West Park Leeds Ladies in the final of the Intermediate Cup Final on Saturday. Head Coach Susie Appleby took time out to preview the game and chat about the future for the team.
Number eight Ben Morgan admitted that the 32-14 Aviva Premiership win over Bristol on Friday evening hadn't been pretty at times, but that the win was based on everyone in the squad remaining united and working for each other.
Previewing Friday evening's local derby at Bristol, Interim Head Coach Jonny Bell told the local media that Gloucester's preparations have gone well and that the whole squad is united in trying to finish the season on a high.
Speaking to GRTV this week, Acting Head Coach Jonny Bell spoke of his pleasure in the efforts and intensity in training from the squad after a tricky few weeks. The team were preparing for big games with Bristol and Cardiff in coming weeks.
Willi Heinz was understandably and visibly disappointed when he spoke to GRTV after the 27-30 home defeat to Harlequins, apologising to the home support as the game slipped away after seemingly having the game under control.
Speaking to the local media this week, Scottish centre Matt Scott spoke of the squad's determination to put in a big home performance against Harlequins, with vital points up for grabs in the hunt for a Top Six spot this Saturday (KO 3pm)
In the aftermath of the Aviva Premiership victory over Bristol, Interim Head Coach Jonny Bell was able to look forward to this weekend's European Rugby Challenge Cup quarter-final against Cardiff Blues (Kingsholm, kick off 8:05pm).