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.
Speaking after the game, Charlie Sharples described it as 'the win that has eluded us.' The winger stressed that Gloucester had stayed positive after the first couple of weeks of the Aviva Premiership season and the 26-13 victory over Sale was a result of that focus.
Gloucester Rugby picked up their first win of the new Aviva Premiership season on Friday night, easing to a 26-13 win on the road at Sale Sharks. Director of Rugby David Humphreys was full of praise for his players on the night.
Defence Coach Jonny Bell was on media duties ahead of the Aviva Premiership fixture at Sale Sharks on Friday evening, and spoke about where Gloucester find themselves in terms of their form at the moment as well as how he's viewing their defensive displays so far.
Callum Braley, who skippered Gloucester United to a 22-19 Aviva Premiership A League win over Saracens Storm on Monday evening, paid tribute to his forwards and the younger players in what he described as not the prettiest of wins.
Tickets for Saturday's Aviva Premiership game against Bath Rugby in both the Stowford Press Terrace and also The Shed are now in short supply, although a number of returns from the visitors have just gone back on sale.
A desperately disappointing afternoon for Gloucester who, despite dominating possession and territory, were guilty of failing to make the most of it against a resolute Newcastle defence before the visitors pounced to snatch the win in the second half.