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.
Defence Coach Jonny Bell admitted this week that the European Rugby Challenge Cup victory in Bayonne was a welcome one, stressed that Benetton Treviso will pose a tough test on Saturday at Kingsholm but that Gloucester are determined to deliver in front of their own fans.
Motu Matu'u is looking to make up for lost time this week as the Cherry and Whites head to Basque Country to take on Bayonne in the European Rugby Challenge Cup opener. The Samoan hooker made his first appearance in the jersey last weekend, and is hoping to contribute to the team this weekend.
Gloucester's attentions turn to Europe this weekend as they travel to Bayonne for their opening fixture of this season's European Rugby Challenge Cup. Forwards Coach Trevor Woodman told GRTV that the Cherry and Whites will be aiming to top their pool as they've done for the past two seasons, but is well aware of how tough it is to win in France.
Although understandably disappointed at seeing victory slip away at the last minute, Ben Morgan said after the game at Exeter that there were plenty of positives that Gloucester could take from the game.
Speaking after a last-gasp try from Exeter earned the Chiefs a 27-27 draw at Sandy Park on Saturday, Charlie Sharples admitted to mixed feelings. The game saw him score a try on his 200th competitive appearance for the club, but the frustration from not closing out the win was clear.
David Humphreys was minutes away from a winning interview on Saturday afternoon, but a late try from Exeter Chiefs meant the points were shared at Sandy Park. Humphreys spoke with the local media after the 27-27 draw.
Speaking to the media ahead of Saturday's Aviva Premiership fixture away at Exeter Chiefs, Director of Rugby David Humphreys reiterated that there are elements of Gloucester's game that are in good shape at present, that the performance against Bath was a step forward from Newcastle but that individual errors are costing the Cherry and Whites dear.
Centre Matt Scott, a try-scorer in Bayonne last weekend, insists that Gloucester are taking nothing for granted when they welcome Benetton Treviso to Kingsholm on Saturday in the European Rugby Challenge Cup (kick off 3pm).