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 after the 37-8 European Rugby Challenge Cup win over Benetton Treviso, James Hook admitted that the Italian side made things tough for Gloucester at times but that the Cherry and Whites are happy to take the bonus point win and turn their focus to Northampton next week.
Speaking to GRTV after the game, Backs Coach Tim Taylor was happy with the squad as they cruised to victory over Treviso. The result wasn't in doubt, but the Cherry and Whites laboured to secure a crucial try bonus point.
Speaking to the local media this week, Gloucester Rugby centre Matt Scott is excited to take the field again as the Cherry and Whites look to build on the win in Bayonne when Treviso come to Kingsholm this Saturday.
Defence Coach Jonny Bell admitted this week that the European Rugby Challenge Cup victory in Bayonne was a welcome one, stressed that Benetton Treviso will pose a tough test on Saturday at Kingsholm but that Gloucester are determined to deliver in front of their own fans.
Motu Matu'u is looking to make up for lost time this week as the Cherry and Whites head to Basque Country to take on Bayonne in the European Rugby Challenge Cup opener. The Samoan hooker made his first appearance in the jersey last weekend, and is hoping to contribute to the team this weekend.
Gloucester's attentions turn to Europe this weekend as they travel to Bayonne for their opening fixture of this season's European Rugby Challenge Cup. Forwards Coach Trevor Woodman told GRTV that the Cherry and Whites will be aiming to top their pool as they've done for the past two seasons, but is well aware of how tough it is to win in France.
Although understandably disappointed at seeing victory slip away at the last minute, Ben Morgan said after the game at Exeter that there were plenty of positives that Gloucester could take from the game.
The Gloucester Rugby Half Term Rugby Camps got off to a great start on Monday morning, with over 60 young rugby players braving the chilly weather to experience a great day of skills, learning and fun thanks to the Gloucester Rugby Community Department.
A number of Gloucester Rugby's promising young players are currently playing their competitive rugby on loan at other clubs, and six of them featured in Saturday's game between London Welsh and Rotherham Titans.