LESLEY VAINIKOLO will start his first game since the end of September when he returns to the wing for Gloucester's Heineken Cup clash with Ulster tomorrow (8pm).
The giant winger, who scored five tries on his Guinness Premiership debut against Leeds, has recovered from a muscle problem in his neck and will line-up in a back-three alongside James Simpson-Daniel and full-back Iain Balshaw.
"The Heineken Cup is one of the reasons I am at Gloucester - I cannot wait for it," Vainikolo said. "I am feeling good - the medics have done their stuff - and now I just want to get back onto the field and get the ball in my hands.
"I have missed not being around the boys but the atmosphere is great and we are looking forward to the game. The Heineken Cup is a massive competition, Ravenhill has a fantastic reputation and it will be a huge experience."
Vainikolo returned to action with 25 minutes from the bench against Wasps in the EDF Energy Cup last weekend and there is another change in Dean Ryan's backline - Mike Tindall returns to the centre alongside Anthony Allen following soreness in his leg.
The half-back combination of Rory Lawson and Ryan Lamb remains intact, while Olly Morgan moves to the bench.
Ryan's forward pack also remains unchanged from the one that took on Wasps, which means Peter Buxton will skipper the side from the second row alongside Alex Brown.
Loose-head prop Nick Wood, hooker Olivier Azam and tight-head Carlos Nieto form the front row, while Alasdair Strokosch, Akapusi Qera and Luke Narraway form the back row.
Marco Bortolami, who missed the game at Adams Park with a shoulder injury, returns to the 22.
"We are selecting from a position of strength and although the turn-around in terms of preparation time is short, we are comfortable where we are," Ryan said.
"Some of the rugby we played against Wasps was some of the best we have played for a long time and even though we lost, we are not allowing ourselves to be too disappointed because of the level of our performance in many areas.
"We stacked up physically and were a genuine threat when in possession. We obviously didn't close the game out which was disappointing but we are not going to beat ourselves up about it because of the good things we did.
"We are relishing this contest - it is where the club wants to be in the long-term and why we finished top of the Premiership last season. It is up to us now to carry it forward."
Alongside Bortolami, Gloucester's other forward replacements are hooker Andy Titterrell, prop Christian Califano and number eight Gareth Delve.
In the backs, scrum-half Mike Prendergast, utility back Chris Paterson and Morgan are Ryan's three-quarter options.
GLOUCESTER (v Ulster, tomorrow 8pm): Iain Balshaw; James Simpson-Daniel, Mike Tindall, Anthony Allen, Lesley Vainikolo; Ryan Lamb, Rory Lawson; Nick Wood, Olivier Azam, Carlos Nieto, Peter Buxton (capt), Alex Brown, Alasdair Strokosch, Akapusi Qera, Luke Narraway. Reps: Andy Titterrell; Christian Califano, Marco Bortolami, Gareth Delve, Mike Prendergast, Chris Paterson, Olly Morgan.
Gloucester meet the Exeter Chiefs for the fourth time in competitive action this weekend, this time in the semi-final of the European Rugby Challenge Cup. Director of Rugby David Humphreys told the local media this week that this is the sort of game that Gloucester want to be involved in on a regular basis and that he and his team are looking forward to it.
Following the 29-26 loss to Harlequins, club captain Billy Twelvetrees spoke of his disappointment that the Cherry and Whites were unable to cash in on the home side's indiscipline and lose a lead on Saturday afternoon.
Number eight Gareth Evans admitted to a collective feeling of frustration as Gloucester lost narrowly at Harlequins on Saturday, but insisted that there are plenty of positives to draw upon ahead of next Saturday's European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final at home to Exeter.
Gloucester travel to the Stoop on Saturday afternoon to take on Harlequins in the Aviva Premiership. The Cherry and Whites make just two changes from last weekend's win over Connacht as they seek consistency and continuity in their play as Nick Walshe told the local media this week.
Speaking to GRTV after the final whistle, Tom Palmer praised the Cherry and Whites concentration and desire to hold on to a narrow 14-7 victory. The second row topped the tackle charts with 19 as he led the home team's resistance.
Supporters who are still to purchase tickets for Saturday's European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final at home to Exeter Chiefs at Kingsholm (kick off 7:45pm) are reminded that Early Bird prices are only valid until 6:30pm on Thursday evening.
The Gloucester Wheelchair Rugby team travelled to Fenton Manor Complex, Stoke on Trent last Saturday to take part in the final round of the GBWR Super Series of the season, knowing just one win would be enough to crown them Division 3 Champions.