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.
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.
Skipper Billy Twelvetrees, speaking to GRTV after the 35-10 over Zebre, was happy with the bonus point win over the Italian side but admitted Gloucester will need to tighten up for the return fixture in Parma.
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).