AKAPUSI QERA, the hard-hitting Fijian openside flanker, has become the latest Gloucester player to commit himself to the club by agreeing a two-year contract extension at Kingsholm.
The 23-year-old - one of the players of the 2007 Rugby World Cup - has taken the Guinness Premiership and Heineken Cup by storm since his arrival at Kingsholm in October with a series of eye-catching performances.
Qera joins team-mates including Ryan Lamb, Olly Morgan and Alasdair Strokosch who have all recently agreed new long-term deals with the current Guinness Premiership leaders.
"I've been made to feel really welcome by everyone associated with the club since I arrived and I'm very happy to sign up for another two years," Qera said.
"Working every day with such a strong squad is a real challenge but I know I have the ability to play a big role in what we are trying to achieve here at Gloucester.
"Kingsholm is a fantastic place to play rugby and I've been really pleased to force my way into the side and show the fans what I can do."
Qera joined Gloucester in the summer from National Division One side Pertemps Bees after a stand-out season in which he scored a remarkable 16 tries from loose forward.
He went on to help Fiji to a quarter-final appearance at the Rugby World Cup in France with three tries in four appearances.
Qera's new deal with the club will keep him at Kingsholm until at least June 2010.
"I think it is pretty obvious to people who watch Gloucester regularly that Akapusi is a special talent," acknowledged head coach Dean Ryan.
"He offers us different options - he is a line-breaker, a destructive tackler and an athlete who is also blessed with tremendous pace.
"To get our outstanding young players like Q, Ryan Lamb and Alasdair Strokosch onto long-term deals is a massive bonus to us in terms of stability as we move forward.
"There is a lot Q still has to learn, but he is in the right environment at Gloucester that we can support him in making sure he achieves his potential in the game."
Speaking to the local media this week, Richard Hibbard expressed his excitement ahead of the West Country derby and that there is an extra spring in the step of the Cherry and Whites ahead of the tough challenge.
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.
On a tough evening at Kingsholm, Gloucester could escape neither a suffocating Bath defence, nor the whistle of referee Greg Garner as six penalties and a penalty try paved the way to a 39-16 win for the visitors.
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).