ANDY HAZELL, Gloucester's dynamic flanker, will return from a six-week absence for Gloucester's Guinness Premiership clash against Harlequins tomorrow (3pm).
The openside flanker, capped seven times by England, damaged rib cartilage against Leicester at the start of October but returns to his favourite number seven shirt as Gloucester look to strengthen their position at the top of the table.
Hazell started the first four matches of Gloucester's season and comes in for Akapusi Qera.
"We are fortunate to be able to welcome back a player of Andy's desire, commitment and determination at this stage of the season," said head coach Dean Ryan.
"He is an outstanding player for us - the injury was particularly painful but we wanted to ensure he got the right recovery time and didn't rush him.
"The reason we have a squad of such depth is so we don't rely on any one individual and over the last six weeks we have operated really well in the back row. Tomorrow, we have a strong trio and we are excited about what they bring to the side as a group.
Hazell will be joined in the back row by skipper Peter Buxton, back at number six following a stint in the second row and Gareth Delve, who will make his first start of the season at number eight.
In all, there are eight changes to the side that beat the Ospreys 26-18 at Kingsholm last Friday - including three more up front.
Patrice Collazo comes in at loose-head for Nick Wood and will make his first start since Gloucester's only Premiership defeat against London Irish at the end of October. Andy Titterrell replaces Olivier Azam at hooker and will be partnered by Carlos Nieto at tight-head.
Will James starts at lock alongside Marco Bortolami as Alex Brown recovers from a shoulder injury.
"We have worked really hard this week to ensure there was not a bit of a lull after the Heineken Cup," Ryan added. "The last couple of weeks have been exceptionally high intensity and the danger is we relax this weekend.
"As a group we have identified individuals who will get our preparation right because the emphasis is much more on ourselves this week. I think Quins have upped their standards and have developed really well as a side and a lot of credit must go to the coaches in charge for that.
"But it is up to us to impose ourselves and not take our foot off the gas - this is a hugely important game for us."
In the backs, there will be a new half-back combination with Gareth Cooper returning to the side following a hamstring injury alongside Chris Paterson at stand-off.
There is only one other change in the three-quarters with Olly Morgan coming in for Iain Balshaw at full-back.
Anthony Allen, a try scorer against the Ospreys, partners Mike Tindall in the centre, while James Simpson-Daniel and Lesley Vainikolo complete the back three alongside Morgan.
On the bench, prop Alasdair Dickinson makes a return to the 22 for the second time and will partnered by Olivier Azam, Luke Narraway and Alasdair Strokosch.
Rory Lawson, Ryan Lamb, Gloucester's leading Premiership point's scorer and Iain Balshaw are Ryan's three-quarter options.
GLOUCESTER (v Harlequins, tomorrow, 3pm): Olly Morgan; James Simpson-Daniel, Mike Tindall, Anthony Allen, Lesley Vainikolo; Chris Paterson, Gareth Cooper; Patrice Collazo, Andy Titterrell, Carlos Nieto, Will James, Marco Bortolami, Peter Buxton (capt), Andy Hazell, Gareth Delve. Reps: Olivier Azam, Alasdair Dickinson, Luke Narraway, Alasdair Strokosch, Rory Lawson, Ryan Lamb, Iain Balshaw.
TICKETS are still available for tomorrow's game in all areas of the stadium. Contact the ticket hotline on 0871 871 8781 (option 2).
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As Gloucester prepare for their 39th game of the season, against Bordeaux-Begles at Sixways on Sunday, David Humphreys told the local media that this week has been all about getting the players mentally and physically ready after a tough game against Connacht last Sunday.
Speaking to GRTV after the 40-32 victory over Connacht on Sunday, skipper Billy Twelvetrees explained that Gloucester had had to learn to be patient and cut out the errors to earn the win and progress to next weekend's final play-off against Bordeaux-Begles.
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.
Tongan international forward Sione Kalamafoni returns after injury to take up his usual place in the back row as Gloucester look to finish their season on a high against Bordeaux-Begles at Sixways on Sunday.
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.