GLOUCESTER RUGBY'S Willie Walker has agreed terms on a two-year contract extension that will keep him at Kingsholm until June 2010.
An outstanding option at either fly-half or full-back, Walker has established himself as a key member of Dean Ryan's squad with a series of excellent performances.
In his first start in the number 10 shirt this season, the New Zealander won the man-of-the-match award after his try-scoring performance in Gloucester's 30-17 victory over Leicester in October, and he has gone on to feature in 23 games in all competitions.
Walker's goal-kicking ability is also a vital component to Gloucester and he has registered more than 300 points since joining up at Kingsholm from Japan two years ago.
"I am thrilled to get this deal done and be staying at Gloucester," said the 29-year-old.
"This is the most competitive squad I've been involved in and our position in the table is a reflection of that. It's a really good environment to be part of, and the players and coaches work well together.
"The players we have are of the highest quality and the ones that have been recruited show we are simply not satisfied with where we are - there is so much we want to achieve and I want to be a part of that.
"My family and I are really happy living here and the fans at Kingsholm have been so supportive - I'm really pleased that things have been sorted."
Head coach Dean Ryan added: "Over the last two seasons Willie has turned in a number of outstanding performances at both fly-half and full-back. To have his versatility and reliability is key to our squad.
"He has played more than 20 times this season and his intelligence, bravery and determination are exactly the sort of qualities we need.
"Willie is a fantastic professional and I believe there is a lot more to come from him in the future. I am really pleased he has committed to Gloucester."
Gloucester meet the Exeter Chiefs for the fourth time in competitive action this weekend, this time in the semi-final of the European Rugby Challenge Cup. Director of Rugby David Humphreys told the local media this week that this is the sort of game that Gloucester want to be involved in on a regular basis and that he and his team are looking forward to it.
Following the 29-26 loss to Harlequins, club captain Billy Twelvetrees spoke of his disappointment that the Cherry and Whites were unable to cash in on the home side's indiscipline and lose a lead on Saturday afternoon.
Number eight Gareth Evans admitted to a collective feeling of frustration as Gloucester lost narrowly at Harlequins on Saturday, but insisted that there are plenty of positives to draw upon ahead of next Saturday's European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final at home to Exeter.
Gloucester travel to the Stoop on Saturday afternoon to take on Harlequins in the Aviva Premiership. The Cherry and Whites make just two changes from last weekend's win over Connacht as they seek consistency and continuity in their play as Nick Walshe told the local media this week.
Speaking to GRTV after the final whistle, Tom Palmer praised the Cherry and Whites concentration and desire to hold on to a narrow 14-7 victory. The second row topped the tackle charts with 19 as he led the home team's resistance.
Supporters who are still to purchase tickets for Saturday's European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final at home to Exeter Chiefs at Kingsholm (kick off 7:45pm) are reminded that Early Bird prices are only valid until 6:30pm on Thursday evening.
The Gloucester Wheelchair Rugby team travelled to Fenton Manor Complex, Stoke on Trent last Saturday to take part in the final round of the GBWR Super Series of the season, knowing just one win would be enough to crown them Division 3 Champions.