ALASDAIR STROKOSCH has said he is thrilled to win the Guinness Premiership player of the month award and has set his sights on maintaining Gloucester's lead at the top of the table.
The tough tackling flanker, who has just signed a new two-year contract extension with Dean Ryan's side following his summer move from Edinburgh, has featured in nine of Gloucester's Premiership games so far this season and was instrumental in their December victories over Newcastle and Bristol.
"All I can say is that I am really shocked to win the award but really pleased at the same time," Strokosch said. "I have just been trying to fit in; play as well as I can and make a contribution for the team.
"Although it is great for me personally, I think it shows just how well we have played as a team so far this season and my aim is to keep doing as well as I can, starting on Friday against Bath.
"It has been a big learning experience for me since my move to Kingsholm but it is fantastic to have coaches and players that believe in my ability and I just want to go out and keep playing at a consistently high level and try and get even better because we are building something really sepcial at the club."
Strokosch (24), has one Scotland cap and has already become a firm favourite thanks to his durability, work-rate and application. Gloucester's head coach Dean Ryan added: "It was a big gamble for him to leave what he knew in the summer and join us but he is the sort of player who embodies exactly what we are as a side.
"He is honest, hard working and is the reason guys like Ryan Lamb and Anthony Allen can play the sort of rugby they do. It is the effort he puts in that is so crucial to us and I am delighted he has been recognised in this way because it shows it does not go un-noticed.
"Alasdair has been a fantastic signing for us and I am sure there is more to come."
It's the first Gloucester-Bristol derby at Kingsholm in over eight years this Saturday (kick off 4:30pm) and, previewing the game with the local media this week, Defence Coach Jonny Bell stressed that, with both teams in the bottom half of the table, they both need the points.
Speaking to the local media this week, Gloucester front rower John Afoa knows the challenge ahead this week against Bristol, and calls on the Cherry and Whites to make the most of home advantage as a determined squad look to bounce back from a narrow loss to Saracens.
Tom Savage speaks to GRTV and the local media as Gloucester went down by 24-20 at Saracens on Sunday afternoon. The second row was disappointed with the result, despite a strong showing from the hosts.
Speaking immediately after the game, skipper Willi Heinz thought that Gloucester had executed their game plan reasonably well and competed hard against Saracens. However, it wasn't enough but the squad will have plenty to work on this week ahead of the derby match against Bristol.
Gloucester may be coming off their best win of the season, the 38-16 victory over Wasps last weekend, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys admits that Sunday's trip to Saracens is an even tougher test.
After a series of contract announcements last week, hooker Richard Hibbard is the latest Gloucester Rugby player to commit to a new contract at the club and told GRTV how much he enjoys playing in the Cherry and White of Gloucester.
A try scorer in the 36-18 Aviva Premiership win over Wasps at Kingsholm on Saturday, Charlie Sharples admitted that Gloucester would enjoy the moment but can't get too carried away. The team got what they deserved but the winger wants these performances to be more frequent.
England Head Coach Eddie Jones has made two changes to his side to play Australia in Saturday's final match of the Old Mutual Wealth Series at Twickenham Stadium (kick-off 2.30pm, live on Sky Sports 2). Jonny May lines up on the left wing.