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.
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.
Speaking to the local media after the game, Director of Rugby David Humphreys gave an honest assessment of the game, and expressed his pride in the way his young charges had performed against the title-chasing hosts.
Speaking to the local media this week, Gloucester Rugby scrum half Callum Braley is excited by the challenge of the West Country Derby, and the ex-Bristol man reveals the squad will be giving their all.
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.
At the recent London Irish game, personnel from the Imjin Barracks in Innsworth, including Gurkhas, were present, holding a collection to raise funds for ShelterBox to aid relief from the recent Nepal Earthquake Appeal.