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.
Speaking to the local media about the local derby against Bath at the Rec on Friday evening, Director of Rugby David Humphreys acknowledged that it will be a tough encounter but hugely exciting at the same time and one the squad are looking forward to.
A visibly disappointed Billy Twelvetrees admitted that it was a very sombre Gloucester dressing room as a last minute try and conversion condemned the Cherry and Whites to an 18-19 defeat against Leicester Tigers on Saturday.
A disappointed Tom Savage told GRTV, after the 18-19 defeat at home to the Leicester Tigers, that the whole Gloucester team had put in a fantastic effort, but just couldn't find the extra one or two percent necessary to put away a top side.
Speaking after the narrow loss to Leicester Tigers on Saturday afternoon, David Humphreys says despite there being a lot of good in Gloucester's performance, he rued the failure to close the game out, as well as thanking the home support
Kiwi second row Jeremy Thrush is thoroughly enjoying his time in Cherry and White so far, and this weekend the Leicester Tigers are the visitors to Kingsholm, and the All Black is massively excited about the challenge.
After two wins in the European Rugby Challenge Cup, securing a home quarter-final, David Humphreys told the local media this week that Gloucester are coming into Saturday's game in good physical shape having rotated the squad. However, he and the squad are prepared for a tough encounter against the Tigers.
Speaking to GRTV after the 14-11 win in Zebre on Saturday, Bill Meakes acknowledged that Zebre had forced Gloucester to dig very deep to earn the win and made a point of thanking the tremendous travelling support.
Speaking after the 14-11 European Rugby Challenge Cup win over Zebre in Parma, Scrum Coach Trevor Woodman admitted that Gloucester hadn't been at their best against a very tough opponent, but had just enough about them to earn the win.
Speaking to GRTV ahead of this weekend's trip to Zebre, scrum half Willi Heinz is expecting a tough challenge from the Guinness Pro12 outfit as the Cherry and Whites look to make it six pool stage victories.
John Afoa returns to the Gloucester Rugby starting line up to take on Bath Rugby at the Rec in the Aviva Premiership on Friday evening, one of three changes to the side that started against Leicester last weekend.
Great news this afternoon as Cherry and White duo Mat Protheroe and Ollie Thorley have been named to start for England as they open up their Under 20 Six Nations campaign against Scotland in Glasgow this Friday
A number of Gloucester Rugby's Academy players will be part of a Hartpury Rugby squad which will travel to Pennyhill Park on Thursday to train with Eddie Jones' England side in their build up to take on Scotland.
Gloucester Rugby's U18s side made it six wins from six this season in the U18 Premiership Rugby competition with a 36-28 win at Northampton last Saturday. Head of Academy, Neil McCarthy, reflected on their progress today.