MARK FOSTER, Gloucester Rugby's highly regarded winger, has agreed a new one-year contract extension at Kingsholm.
Despite the arrivals of former rugby league legend Lesley Vainikolo and the availability of England internationals Iain Balshaw and James Simpson-Daniel, Foster has established himself as key element in Dean Ryan's Guinness Premiership title-chasing squad.
He has made 10 appearances in all competitions this season and his one Premiership try came in Gloucester's vital 34-14 victory over London Irish in March. After joining the Academy set-up at the age 18 in 2002, Foster progressed to Gloucester's A League side and in 68 first team appearances he has scored 19 tries.
That included 10 in 28 appearances in 2005-06 during Gloucester's European Challenge Cup campaign that ended with victory over London Irish.
"Gloucester has been a part of my life for a long time, it is a unique place to play professional rugby and I am thrilled to have this opportunity to play my part in what is a great squad of players," Foster said.
"Over the last three seasons I feel I have developed my game really well but my aim now is to play a key part towards the end of the season. I have the ability to score tries at Premiership level and when the opportunity comes I want to take it.
"It's no secret that Dean Ryan and his coaching set-up is establishing Gloucester at the forefront of the domestic and European game and that is very exciting prospect to be involved in. Gloucester have probably never had such a talented group of players and so to be involved in that is fantastic - but I just want to be build on it and become an even better player."
Gloucester's head coach Ryan was delighted Foster had committed himself to the club and said: "I have said repeatedly it is not about 15 players but a group and Mark has shown over an extended period of time just what a good player he is at Premiership level.
"He has the ability to score very important tries, is young and has been around the squad for a long time. Mark knows what it means to be involved with a club like Gloucester and that is very important. He is striving to improve all the time and that attitude is very important."
Motu Matu'u is looking to make up for lost time this week as the Cherry and Whites head to Basque Country to take on Bayonne in the European Rugby Challenge Cup opener. The Samoan hooker made his first appearance in the jersey last weekend, and is hoping to contribute to the team this weekend.
Gloucester's attentions turn to Europe this weekend as they travel to Bayonne for their opening fixture of this season's European Rugby Challenge Cup. Forwards Coach Trevor Woodman told GRTV that the Cherry and Whites will be aiming to top their pool as they've done for the past two seasons, but is well aware of how tough it is to win in France.
Although understandably disappointed at seeing victory slip away at the last minute, Ben Morgan said after the game at Exeter that there were plenty of positives that Gloucester could take from the game.
Speaking after a last-gasp try from Exeter earned the Chiefs a 27-27 draw at Sandy Park on Saturday, Charlie Sharples admitted to mixed feelings. The game saw him score a try on his 200th competitive appearance for the club, but the frustration from not closing out the win was clear.
David Humphreys was minutes away from a winning interview on Saturday afternoon, but a late try from Exeter Chiefs meant the points were shared at Sandy Park. Humphreys spoke with the local media after the 27-27 draw.
Speaking to the media ahead of Saturday's Aviva Premiership fixture away at Exeter Chiefs, Director of Rugby David Humphreys reiterated that there are elements of Gloucester's game that are in good shape at present, that the performance against Bath was a step forward from Newcastle but that individual errors are costing the Cherry and Whites dear.
Lesley Vainikolo was a welcome visitor to Kingsholm this week, reminiscing as he wandered around the stadium. The big winger is back in Gloucester to take part in Sunday's Mitsubishi Motors UK Hybrid Cup (kick off 3pm).
Centre Matt Scott, a try-scorer in Bayonne last weekend, insists that Gloucester are taking nothing for granted when they welcome Benetton Treviso to Kingsholm on Saturday in the European Rugby Challenge Cup (kick off 3pm).