GLOUCESTER'S head coach Dean Ryan has reverted to the majority of the squad that established his side as the pace-setters in the Guinness Premiership for Sunday's EDF Energy Cup clash against Wasps (3pm).
Following their 18-18 draw with Newcastle last Saturday, Ryan has responded by recalling a number of players who have the opportunity to figure in the Heineken Cup against Ulster next Friday.
There is a total change in the front row where Nick Wood, Olivier Azam and Carlos Nieto return as the front line of Gloucester's forward effort.
Nieto started the first five matches of the season before a sore back ruled him out of the defeat against London Irish. Azam and Wood have also been key elements up front - Azam has been involved in all the Premiership games and Wood four.
Peter Buxton will skipper the side from the second row position - after a shoulder injury ruled out Marco Bortolami. He will partner Alex Brown, while Alasdair Strokosch, Akapusi Qera and Luke Narraway complete the back row.
"We have to take the game seriously for our own preparation. We want to win at Wasps and we want to have a good feeling again as a group prior to going to Ulster," Ryan said.
"The core of the side reflects the core we'll be using over the coming weeks. It won't necessarily be the selection but the group of players we feel can contribute over the coming weeks - as they have done already.
"The group we come back to now have been playing for seven or eight weeks, so the changes aren't disruptive."
In the backs, Gareth Cooper and Ryan Lamb will get the chance to start together for the first time - Cooper making his first start of the season following the World Cup and a hamstring injury.
Mike Tindall returns in the centre alongside James Simpson-Daniel as Anthony Allen takes a well earned break on the bench after starting every match of the season.
There is also a return for Olly Morgan at full-back which means Iain Balshaw moves to the wing. Mark Foster completes the back three.
"This is a strong group and I am sure both teams will view this as a massive opportunity with the schedules we face in the coming weeks,"
Ryan added. "We anticipate a level of intensity that we will face in the Heineken Cup and we must answer those challenges.
"We are a tight group and we will need to be. This is a significant game for both teams and a challenge comparable to any out there."
On the bench, there is a first appearance of the season for Gareth Delve, who has been in long-term recovery from knee reconstruction. He will be joined by hooker Andy Titterrell, prop Patrice Collazo and lock Will James.
The three-quarter replacements are scrum-half Rory Lawson, utility back Chris Paterson, who passed a CogSport head test this week following a collision against Newcastle and centre Allen. Scrum-half Mike Prendergast will travel as the 23rd man.
GLOUCESTER (v Wasps, Sunday, 3pm): Olly Morgan; Iain Balshaw, James Simpson-Daniel, Mike Tindall, Mark Foster; Ryan Lamb, Gareth Cooper; Nick Wood, Olivier Azam, Carlos Nieto, Peter Buxton (capt), Alex Brown, Alasdair Strokosch, Akapusi Qera, Luke Narraway. Reps: Andy Titterrell, Patrice Collazo, Will James, Gareth Delve, Rory Lawson, Chris Paterson, Anthony Allen, 23rd man: Mike Prendergast.
Speaking to GRTV after the 40-29 Aviva A League win over Wasps Rugby, Academy Coach Rich Whiffin explained his pride in the squad to overcome a strong opponent and book their spot in next week's Aviva A League final.
Willi Heinz returned from injury to skipper Gloucester to a famous 16-14 win over Stade Rochelais on Saturday evening. Speaking after the game in France, Heinz admitted the win wasn't pretty but was full of courage and a great result for the club.
Billy Burns contributed all Gloucester's points in the 16-14 European Rugby Challenge Cup win in La Rochelle on Saturday evening, but dedicated the victory to the whole squad whilst also praising the travelling support.
Speaking after Gloucester's brave 16-14 win against Stade Rochelais which clinches a European Rugby Challenge Cup final spot, Director of Rugby David Humphreys paid tribute to the way the team had executed the game plan in a hostile environment against quality opposition.
Greig Laidlaw returns to the Gloucester Rugby squad this week, and his inclusion is an important one after a serious ankle injury. The Scottish scrum half is determined to drive the team forward in their European Rugby Challenge Cup semi final in La Rochelle this Saturday.
Gloucester take on La Rochelle in the European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final in France on Saturday evening, with the Top 14 side the favourites in the eyes of the bookmakers. However, David Humphreys is looking for his side to rise to the occasion against a familiar opponent.
Speaking to GRTV after Saturday's 39-30 Aviva Premiership win over Sale, Mark Atkinson admitted that the performance wasn't perfect but that the team's character shone through in a game that could easily have slipped away.