KARL PRYCE will make his Guinness Premiership debut tomorrow when he lines up against Northampton Saints at Franklin's Gardens.
The former Bradford Bulls star will come into the side for Mark Foster and make only his second senior appearance since his switch to Kingsholm in October - and will be joined in the side by England full-back Iain Balshaw, who has recovered from a groin injury.
Pryce made his debut in the EDF Energy Cup against Bath in December and his head coach Dean Ryan is thrilled at the prospect of Pryce continuing his development.
"We are still in the early stages of Karl's development but view this as an ideal opportunity to further his progress in the environment of the Premiership," Ryan told www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk
"Karl is starting out on a journey in rugby union and we are excited about him as a prospect. We are not expecting something extraordinary over night because that wouldn't be fair but we will use this as another indicator to his progression.
"Northampton will be a tough place to go but he will have plenty of experience around him and that is very important."
The return of Balshaw is also highly significant considering Olly Morgan is out for the rest of the season with a shoulder problem. Balshaw comes in for Jon Goodridge in the number 15 shirt.
There is also a return for centre Anthony Allen and he will partner Mike Tindall, while up front Italian duo Marco Bortolami and Carlos Nieto also start.
"Balsh has obviously struggled with a sore groin but to have a player of his experience and enthusiasm back is great news," Ryan added. "He will provide an attacking threat and I think our backline looks very competitive.
The half-back combination will see Pete Richards and Ryan Lamb retain their partnership following Gloucester's 33-19 win over Worcester last weekend.
Gloucester's forwards also have a strong look and Nieto will feature in a front row alongside hooker Olivier Azam and loosehead prop Nick Wood.
Luke Narraway retains the number eight shirt in the back row alongside flankers Andy Hazell and Peter Buxton.
On the bench, Willie Walker returns from a shoulder injury and his joined by Haydn Thomas, James Bailey, Mefin Davies, Christian Califano, Will James and Adam Eustace.
"Our performance last week was not acceptable and we will be unable to be that flat tomorrow against a side who have just beaten Leicester," Ryan said.
"We are looking for an improvement but these games are always pretty special, Northampton is a great place to play rugby and we are relishing the opportunity against a side also looking for points."
GLOUCESTER (v Northampton), tomorrow, 3pm: Iain Balshaw; James Simpson-Daniel, Mike Tindall, Anthony Allen, Karl Pryce; Ryan Lamb, Pete Richards; Nick Wood, Olivier Azam, Carlos Nieto, Marco Bortolami (capt), Alex Brown, Peter Buxton, Andy Hazell, Luke Narraway. Reps: Mefin Davies, Christian Califano, Will James, Adam Eustace, Haydn Thomas, Willie Walker, James Bailey.
It's the first Gloucester-Bristol derby at Kingsholm in over eight years this Saturday (kick off 4:30pm) and, previewing the game with the local media this week, Defence Coach Jonny Bell stressed that, with both teams in the bottom half of the table, they both need the points.
Speaking to the local media this week, Gloucester front rower John Afoa knows the challenge ahead this week against Bristol, and calls on the Cherry and Whites to make the most of home advantage as a determined squad look to bounce back from a narrow loss to Saracens.
Tom Savage speaks to GRTV and the local media as Gloucester went down by 24-20 at Saracens on Sunday afternoon. The second row was disappointed with the result, despite a strong showing from the hosts.
Speaking immediately after the game, skipper Willi Heinz thought that Gloucester had executed their game plan reasonably well and competed hard against Saracens. However, it wasn't enough but the squad will have plenty to work on this week ahead of the derby match against Bristol.
Gloucester may be coming off their best win of the season, the 38-16 victory over Wasps last weekend, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys admits that Sunday's trip to Saracens is an even tougher test.
After a series of contract announcements last week, hooker Richard Hibbard is the latest Gloucester Rugby player to commit to a new contract at the club and told GRTV how much he enjoys playing in the Cherry and White of Gloucester.
A try scorer in the 36-18 Aviva Premiership win over Wasps at Kingsholm on Saturday, Charlie Sharples admitted that Gloucester would enjoy the moment but can't get too carried away. The team got what they deserved but the winger wants these performances to be more frequent.
England Head Coach Eddie Jones has made two changes to his side to play Australia in Saturday's final match of the Old Mutual Wealth Series at Twickenham Stadium (kick-off 2.30pm, live on Sky Sports 2). Jonny May lines up on the left wing.