GLOUCESTER'S Adam Balding has joined Guinness Premiership side Leeds Carnegie on a three-month loan deal, starting today.
The number eight, who has made two appearances this season - one from the bench in the Guinness Premiership and one start in the EDF Energy Cup - will be part of the Leeds effort until the end of February.
"It is important our players get regular exposure in high-quality competition and the opportunity to be involved with Leeds is a great chance for Adam to gain demonstrate his form," said Gloucester's head coach Dean Ryan.
"Our back row is an incredibly competitive area and we want players fighting for the right to break into it. I think this is good move for him in the short-term."
Balding joined Gloucester in 2004 and ended that season as stand-in captain. In total, he has so far made 105 Premiership appearances for Leicester and Gloucester.
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).