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.
With such a short turnaround between the two games, and Gloucester looking to reintegrate several players into the line-up after the Autumn international series, Tom Savage told GRTV that the Cherry and Whites will keep changes to a minimum for the European Rugby Challenge Cup game in Zebre on Saturday.
Gloucester travel to Italy this weekend to take on Zebre in Round Four of the European Rugby Challenge Cup. The Cherry and Whites defeated the Italian side 35-10 last Sunday, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys is looking for an improved performance in the return fixture.
Skipper Billy Twelvetrees, speaking to GRTV after the 35-10 over Zebre, was happy with the bonus point win over the Italian side but admitted Gloucester will need to tighten up for the return fixture in Parma.
Gloucester Rugby welcome Sione Kalamafoni, Greig Laidlaw and Tom Palmer back to the starting line up and feature David Halaifonua in a matchday squad for the first time, as they resume Aviva Premiership action against Bath Rugby at Kingsholm on Saturday (kick off 5:30pm).