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."
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.
After a tense opening half hour in Parma, the game turned just before half time as the home team had David Odiete red carded and Gloucester took full advantage, running in three second half tries to secure the bonus point and the victory over Zebre by 32 points to 16.