HEAD coach Dean Ryan has named an exciting line-up for Gloucester's last pre-season game against Ulster at Ravenhill tomorrow (6.30pm).
A number of Gloucester's key players - James Simpson-Daniel, Olly Morgan, Pete Buxton and Carlos Nieto will get their first starts of the season as Ryan takes another opportunity to look over options ahead of the start of the Guinness Premiership against Leeds a week on Sunday.
"We have a few players we want to see play again and we also have guys still getting used to the systems we have in place," Ryan said.
"Cardiff were further down the line than us a fortnight ago but I want to see us being more competitive in a lot of areas. I was disappointed with aspects of that performance and we need to see an improvement.
"We appreciate the significance of this game, we have plenty to get out of it and we have another exciting side.
"It is still pre-season, but we've got to have some strong indicators that we are physically ready and mentally able to compete further down the line with the kind of systems we want to run."
Up front, Andy Titterrell will start his first game at hooker and either side of him at prop will be Nick Wood at loose-head and Carlos Nieto, who was ruled out of Italy's World Cup squad through injury, at tight-head.
In the second row, Jonathan Pendlebury will partner Dan Tuohy, while Peter Buxton returns to the blindside flank following his broken thumb in the Guinness Premiership final. Andy Hazell retains the openside position and there is also a return for Adam Balding at number eight following a knee injury.
"We are aware of how important guys like Pete Buxton and Adam Balding are to us physically and it is pleasing they will get some game-time ahead of the Premiership," Ryan added.
Ryan has also shifted his backline around to look at fresh combinations which means Willie Walker will partner Mike Prendergast at half-back.
Anthony Allen, one of Gloucester's stand-out performers against Cardiff, will be in midfield alongside James Simpson-Daniel which gives Lesley Vainikolo another opportunity on the wing.
The back three is completed by James Bailey and Olly Morgan at full-back.
Gloucester will travel with nine replacements that are split into a five-four forward split. There is an entire front row option of Olivier Azam and props Alasdair Dickinson and Patrice Collazo and back rowers Luke Narraway and Alsadair Strokosch.
Scrum-half Dave Lewis is also included alongside Ryan Lamb, while Leon Lloyd and Iain Balshaw complete Ryan's options.
GLOUCESTER v Ulster, tomorrow (6.30pm): Olly Morgan, James Bailey, James Simpson-Daniel, Anthony Allen, Lesley Vainikolo, Willie Walker, Mike Prendergast; Nick Wood, Andy Titterrell, Carlos Nieto, Jonathan Pendlebury, Dan Tuohy, Peter Buxton (capt), Andy Hazell, Adam Balding. Reps: Olivier Azam, Alasdair Dickinson, Patrice Collazo, Luke Narraway, Alasdair Strokosch, Dave Lewis, Ryan Lamb, Leon Lloyd, Iain Balshaw.
Speaking to the local media this week, John Afoa described the hard work that the Cherry and White have been putting in and that he is fighting fit ready for Saturday's European Rugby Challenge Cup semi final clash with Exeter Chiefs.
Gloucester Rugby face Exeter Chiefs this Saturday in the European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final, and Charlie Sharples, who starts at full back is relishing the challenge of the big Kingsholm occasion.
Gloucester meet the Exeter Chiefs for the fourth time in competitive action this weekend, this time in the semi-final of the European Rugby Challenge Cup. Director of Rugby David Humphreys told the local media this week that this is the sort of game that Gloucester want to be involved in on a regular basis and that he and his team are looking forward to it.
Following the 29-26 loss to Harlequins, club captain Billy Twelvetrees spoke of his disappointment that the Cherry and Whites were unable to cash in on the home side's indiscipline and lose a lead on Saturday afternoon.
Number eight Gareth Evans admitted to a collective feeling of frustration as Gloucester lost narrowly at Harlequins on Saturday, but insisted that there are plenty of positives to draw upon ahead of next Saturday's European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final at home to Exeter.
Gloucester travel to the Stoop on Saturday afternoon to take on Harlequins in the Aviva Premiership. The Cherry and Whites make just two changes from last weekend's win over Connacht as they seek consistency and continuity in their play as Nick Walshe told the local media this week.
Gloucester Rugby qualified for their first European final since 2006 as they defeated the in-form Exeter Chiefs by 30 points to 19 in a thrilling semi-final at Kingsholm on Saturday evening. The club photographer caught the best of the action.
Recent meetings between these two teams have often been thrillers, and this was no exception. It went down to the final few minutes, but Gloucester produced the goods when it mattered to qualify for the European Rugby Challenge Cup Final, beating Exeter 30-19.
Supporters who are still to purchase tickets for Saturday's European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final at home to Exeter Chiefs at Kingsholm (kick off 7:45pm) are reminded that Early Bird prices are only valid until 6:30pm on Thursday evening.