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."
As Gloucester prepare for their 39th game of the season, against Bordeaux-Begles at Sixways on Sunday, David Humphreys told the local media that this week has been all about getting the players mentally and physically ready after a tough game against Connacht last Sunday.
Speaking to GRTV after the 40-32 victory over Connacht on Sunday, skipper Billy Twelvetrees explained that Gloucester had had to learn to be patient and cut out the errors to earn the win and progress to next weekend's final play-off against Bordeaux-Begles.
Jonny May's superb late score capped a thrilling 40-32 European play-off win over Connacht on Sunday. The winger spoke afterwards of his team's character and spirit as he looked ahead to one more week of rugby.
Speaking to GRTV this afternoon, Director of Rugby David Humphreys hailed the 'never say die' attitude of the team, after despite not being at their best, fighting back to take a 40-32 win after extra time over Connacht.
Jonny May continues on the wing on Sunday as Connacht come to town, and the England wing explains to the local media this week that he is delighted with his form and is looking forward to taking on Pat Lam's men.
Speaking to the local media this week, front rower John Afoa is familiar with the challenge of Connacht from his time in Belfast, and the World Cup winner is fully aware of the challenge they pose ahead of Sunday's meeting in the Champions Cup play off
Speaking ahead of Gloucester's European Rugby Champions play-off against Connacht on Sunday (Kingsholm, 3:30pm), Director of Rugby David Humphreys admitted that he's glad to have more players available than in recent weeks ahead of a tough fixture.
Nick Wood captained the Cherry and Whites on Saturday afternoon, and the experienced front rower expressed his pride in the young squad in defeat to Bath on the final day of the Aviva Premiership season.
Lewis Ludlow scored Gloucester's opening try in the 30-50 defeat at Bath on Saturday, part of an impressive performance by the young back row forward. Speaking after the game, he paid tribute to the young Gloucester side who went toe to toe with the Aviva Premiership semi-finalists.
Tongan international forward Sione Kalamafoni returns after injury to take up his usual place in the back row as Gloucester look to finish their season on a high against Bordeaux-Begles at Sixways on Sunday.
Gloucester Rugby is delighted to confirm that 18 year old Mat Protheroe, a product of Hartpury College and one of the brightest young talents in the English game, has signed a senior contract at Kingsholm.