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."
Willi Heinz scored Gloucester's second try as the Cherry and Whites overturned a disappointing first 40 minutes and 0-6 half time deficit, to earn a 26-18 Aviva Premiership victory over Bristol Rugby on Saturday.
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.
Looking to try a new sport? Look no further than Walking Rugby as thanks to Gloucester Rugby you can come along and try out the fast-growing sport at taster sessions across the county, starting this Wednesday.
Gloucester return to European Rugby Challenge Cup action on Thursday evening with the visit of Stade Rochelais to Kingsholm (kick off 7:45pm). Early Bird ticket prices are available until 6:30pm on matchday.
Talk about a game of two halves. Things looked grim on Saturday as Gloucester trailed 0-6 to Bristol at half-time. However, Matt Scott's eighth try of the season got Gloucester off and running, and the visitors fell apart as the Cherry and Whites eased to a 26-18 bonus point Aviva Premiership win.