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.
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.
Speaking after a last-gasp try from Exeter earned the Chiefs a 27-27 draw at Sandy Park on Saturday, Charlie Sharples admitted to mixed feelings. The game saw him score a try on his 200th competitive appearance for the club, but the frustration from not closing out the win was clear.
David Humphreys was minutes away from a winning interview on Saturday afternoon, but a late try from Exeter Chiefs meant the points were shared at Sandy Park. Humphreys spoke with the local media after the 27-27 draw.
Speaking to the media ahead of Saturday's Aviva Premiership fixture away at Exeter Chiefs, Director of Rugby David Humphreys reiterated that there are elements of Gloucester's game that are in good shape at present, that the performance against Bath was a step forward from Newcastle but that individual errors are costing the Cherry and Whites dear.
Centre Matt Scott, a try-scorer in Bayonne last weekend, insists that Gloucester are taking nothing for granted when they welcome Benetton Treviso to Kingsholm on Saturday in the European Rugby Challenge Cup (kick off 3pm).