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."
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.
Skipper Billy Twelvetrees, speaking to GRTV after the 35-10 over Zebre, was happy with the bonus point win over the Italian side but admitted Gloucester will need to tighten up for the return fixture in Parma.
Matt Kvesic was a try scorer and recipient of the Man of the Match award in Sunday's 35-10 European Rugby Challenge Cup win over Zebre. He praised the Italian side for their spirited opposition and admitted that next week's return game will be a tough one.