GARTEH COOPER will start his second Guinness Premiership match of the season at scrum-half when table-topping Gloucester travel to Newcastle on Sunday (3pm).
The Wales number nine comes into the team for Rory Lawson in one of three changes to the side that beat Bourgoin 51-27 at Kingsholm last Saturday.
Marco Bortolami returns to the second row as captain in place of Peter Buxton, who moves to the bench and Alasdair Strokosch starts at number six which means Luke Narraway shifts to the openside in place of Akapusi Qera, who is ruled out with a slight wrist injury.
The rest of Ryan's line-up remains intact for what potentially could be one of the most exciting games of the season between two sides stacked with English talent.
"It is impossible to believe we can operate with the same group of players relentlessly throughout the season because we have been through a very intense period of matches and we are not going to get the best from a guy like Pete Buxton if we simply play and play him," Ryan said.
"We are bringing in an international captain and outstanding player in Marco Bortolami to the second row, Gareth Cooper has looked sharp in his appearances from the bench and Strokosch gives us a work ethic and explosive power we will require.
"Newcastle away from home is one of the most demanding fixtures in the Premiership - they have an outstanding spine to their team and world class players in key areas - it is a hugely important game for both of us.
"I think both teams like to try and play rugby in the right way and that is a great endorsement to both clubs and also the Premiership."
Bortolami's last start was against the Dragons in the EDF Energy Cup at the end of November and he will partner Alex Brown at lock. The front row of Nick Wood, hooker Olivier Azam and tight-head Carlos Nieto remains intact.
Narraway, who has operated at numbers eight and six this season switches to the openside flank, Strokosch comes in at six and Gareth Delve will start his fifth successive game at number eight.
Outside Cooper, Ryan Lamb will wear number 10 and will face Jonny Wilkinson, Anthony Allen and Mike Tindall feature in midfield, while Lesley Vainikolo, the Premiership's leading try scorer with seven; James Simpson-Daniel and Iain Balshaw complete the back three.
The bench is again made into a four-three forward split. Andy Titterrell and Patrice Collazo are the front row replacements and Will James and Buxton the back five options.
Scrum-half Lawson, utility back Willie Walker, who scored against Bourgoin last Saturday and Leon Lloyd complete the three-quarter options.
GLOUCESTER (v Newcastle, Sunday): Iain Balshaw, James Simpson-Daniel, Mike Tindall, Anthony Allen, Lesley Vainikolo; Ryan Lamb, Gareth Cooper; Nick Wood, Olivier Azam, Carlos Nieto, Marco Bortolami (capt), Alex Brown, Alasdair Strokosch, Luke Narraway, Gareth Delve. Reps: Andy Titterrell, Patrice Collazo, Will James, Peter Buxton, Rory Lawson, Willie Walker, Leon Lloyd.
Billy Burns contributed all Gloucester's points in the 16-14 European Rugby Challenge Cup win in La Rochelle on Saturday evening, but dedicated the victory to the whole squad whilst also praising the travelling support.
Speaking after Gloucester's brave 16-14 win against Stade Rochelais which clinches a European Rugby Challenge Cup final spot, Director of Rugby David Humphreys paid tribute to the way the team had executed the game plan in a hostile environment against quality opposition.
Greig Laidlaw returns to the Gloucester Rugby squad this week, and his inclusion is an important one after a serious ankle injury. The Scottish scrum half is determined to drive the team forward in their European Rugby Challenge Cup semi final in La Rochelle this Saturday.
Gloucester take on La Rochelle in the European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final in France on Saturday evening, with the Top 14 side the favourites in the eyes of the bookmakers. However, David Humphreys is looking for his side to rise to the occasion against a familiar opponent.
Speaking to GRTV after Saturday's 39-30 Aviva Premiership win over Sale, Mark Atkinson admitted that the performance wasn't perfect but that the team's character shone through in a game that could easily have slipped away.
Monday evening saw Freddie Clarke in A League action against Exeter, Saturday saw him make his Aviva Premiership debut. And both games resulted in wins! Freddie spoke to GRTV after the 39-30 win over Sale.
Billy Burns will get the headlines for his 16 point haul, but it was a team of heroes who went to La Rochelle and fought like demons to secure a magnificent 16-14 European Rugby Challenge Cup win on Saturday evening.
Gloucester Rugby welcome back scrum-halves Willi Heinz and Greig Laidlaw to the matchday squad as they make five changes to their starting line-up for Saturday evening's European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final against Stade Rochelais.