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."
Speaking to GRTV after the 40-29 Aviva A League win over Wasps Rugby, Academy Coach Rich Whiffin explained his pride in the squad to overcome a strong opponent and book their spot in next week's Aviva A League final.
Willi Heinz returned from injury to skipper Gloucester to a famous 16-14 win over Stade Rochelais on Saturday evening. Speaking after the game in France, Heinz admitted the win wasn't pretty but was full of courage and a great result for the club.
Billy Burns contributed all Gloucester's points in the 16-14 European Rugby Challenge Cup win in La Rochelle on Saturday evening, but dedicated the victory to the whole squad whilst also praising the travelling support.
Speaking after Gloucester's brave 16-14 win against Stade Rochelais which clinches a European Rugby Challenge Cup final spot, Director of Rugby David Humphreys paid tribute to the way the team had executed the game plan in a hostile environment against quality opposition.
Greig Laidlaw returns to the Gloucester Rugby squad this week, and his inclusion is an important one after a serious ankle injury. The Scottish scrum half is determined to drive the team forward in their European Rugby Challenge Cup semi final in La Rochelle this Saturday.
Gloucester take on La Rochelle in the European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final in France on Saturday evening, with the Top 14 side the favourites in the eyes of the bookmakers. However, David Humphreys is looking for his side to rise to the occasion against a familiar opponent.
Speaking to GRTV after Saturday's 39-30 Aviva Premiership win over Sale, Mark Atkinson admitted that the performance wasn't perfect but that the team's character shone through in a game that could easily have slipped away.