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."
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.