Tindall to make Gloucester bow

England centre Mike Tindall will make his Gloucester debut on Sunday in the west country Guinness Premiership showdown against Worcester at Sixways. [more]

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England centre Mike Tindall will make his Gloucester debut on Sunday in the west country Guinness Premiership showdown against Worcester at Sixways.

Tindall, who moved to the Cherry and Whites from Bath during the summer, features in a full-strength Gloucester side that also sees the return from injury of England prop Phil Vickery.

England head coach Andy Robinson will be watching on intently after both Tindall and Vickery missed the majority of last season – and the summer British & Irish Lions tour to New Zealand – because of injury.

Tindall has not played since November after suffering serious foot and shoulder injuries and England badly missed his leadership and powerful midfield presence during the 2005 RBS 6 Nations.

Vickery broke his arm in mid-February and then suffered complications with his recovery that kept him out for the season and the Lions trip.

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But both are back in the spotlight against a Worcester side promising a ferocious season-opening test.

Gloucester skipper Jake Boer said: "We know what to expect and we also have a lot of respect for Worcester because they play good rugby and are very competitive. The clear fact is that it is down to us to try and set the standards we want.

"We are in a local derby and that always means a big confrontation, particularly in the forwards. We know it’s going to be a huge contest. It’s only after the first Premiership game that you know where you really stand."

Vickery packs down in a heavy-duty front row alongside Patrice Collazo and Olivier Azam, with Adam Eustace and Alex Brown in the second row.

Gloucester head coach Dean Ryan has also given debuts to new signings Rob Thirlby, the full-back and England Sevens international, and scrum-half Peter Richards who signed from Wasps in the summer.

Richards links up with fly-half Ludovic Mercier, while Tindall forms an international centre partnership with Henry Paul.

Worcester, winners of nine games in their first Premiership season, are without their England scrum-half Andy Gomarsall who is denied the chance to face his former team by a knee injury.

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