Bryan Redpath has signed a new contract at Gloucester
TWO of the men responsible for ensuring Heineken Cup rugby returns to Kingsholm next season have signed contract extensions to keep them at Gloucester until 2009.
Assistant coach Bryan Redpath and fitness and conditioning expert Mike Anthony have agreed extensions to their existing deals that ensure they will remain at Kingsholm for another three seasons.
Redpath, (33), joined Gloucester in the summer after a distinguished playing career that took him from Melrose to Edinburgh, Narbonne and Sale as well as 60 caps for Scotland at scrum-half.
He linked up alongside head coach Dean Ryan before the start of the current campaign in his first senior coaching role on a two-year deal.
"The project we have at Gloucester has enthralled me and it is something I very much want to see through and develop because we have an outstanding group of individuals," he told www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk.
"This is obviously my first senior coaching role and I am delighted the club want to keep me involved long-term. We have made really positive strides in a short period of time and we want to continue that, build on it and make the club very successful.
"Next season we are in the Heineken Cup - a competition that excites us all immensely - and that means we will all test our abilities at a higher level. To be involved until 2009 means we are working with one of the most exciting groups of players in the country at the most important stage of their development."
Anthony is the former All Blacks and Canterbury Crusaders fitness and conditioning expert and joined the club in the summer of 2004 under former director of rugby Nigel Melville. He spent seven years with the Crusaders, where he won three Super 12 titles and was also involved in the 2003 World Cup.
Since his involvement with the club, Anthony has revolutionised the way Gloucester prepares physically and has been instrumental in raising fitness levels.
"When I joined the club two years ago I said it would take three years to get fitness levels to a standard we wanted and now the challenge is to take them even further," Anthony said.
"Gloucester is one of the biggest names in English rugby but we want to build that reputation right across Europe. I have made no secret of the fact I wanted to stay at the club and continue the journey we have all started.
"This season we have made huge amounts of progress on and off the field but there is so much more we all want to achieve and I cannot wait to be a part of it.
"We are creating an environment on and off the field that I think is unique in the English Premiership and for me and my family that was very important. We are working with a young, exciting and extremely gifted group of players and that made my decision pretty easy."
Speaking to the local media this week, Richard Hibbard expressed his excitement ahead of the West Country derby and that there is an extra spring in the step of the Cherry and Whites ahead of the tough challenge.
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.
Gloucester Rugby welcome Sione Kalamafoni, Greig Laidlaw and Tom Palmer back to the starting line up and feature David Halaifonua in a matchday squad for the first time, as they resume Aviva Premiership action against Bath Rugby at Kingsholm on Saturday (kick off 5:30pm).