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 this week, Richard Hibbard expressed his excitement ahead of the West Country derby and that there is an extra spring in the step of the Cherry and Whites ahead of the tough challenge.
With such a short turnaround between the two games, and Gloucester looking to reintegrate several players into the line-up after the Autumn international series, Tom Savage told GRTV that the Cherry and Whites will keep changes to a minimum for the European Rugby Challenge Cup game in Zebre on Saturday.
Gloucester travel to Italy this weekend to take on Zebre in Round Four of the European Rugby Challenge Cup. The Cherry and Whites defeated the Italian side 35-10 last Sunday, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys is looking for an improved performance in the return fixture.
On a tough evening at Kingsholm, Gloucester could escape neither a suffocating Bath defence, nor the whistle of referee Greg Garner as six penalties and a penalty try paved the way to a 39-16 win for the visitors.
Gloucester Rugby welcome Sione Kalamafoni, Greig Laidlaw and Tom Palmer back to the starting line up and feature David Halaifonua in a matchday squad for the first time, as they resume Aviva Premiership action against Bath Rugby at Kingsholm on Saturday (kick off 5:30pm).