ANTHONY ALLEN, one of the most gifted youngsters in English rugby, has pledged his future to Gloucester by signing a new two-year contract extension with Dean Ryan's Guinness Premiership pace-setters.
The 20-year-old, who has already won two England caps during the autumn internationals against New Zealand and Argentina, has agreed a deal that will keep him in Gloucester colours until 2009.
Allen's star quality is not in question and he signed for Gloucester in 2005 straight from Millfield School in Somerset. The young centre has progressed from the England Under-19s set-up, where he partnered Newcastle's Mathew Tait in midfield during the 2004 World Cup, to full honours in 2006.
In 15 Premiership appearances, he has scored seven times, including three tries this season against Leicester, Worcester and Wasps.
"Since I became a professional with Gloucester, everything has happened so fast I cannot really believe it," Allen told www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk
"My initial ambition was to try and break into the first team and I am just delighted to have been able to contribute something to what we are trying to build at the club.
"It is an honour to represent a club with such tradition and history and to have my future confirmed for another two years is a great feeling. I just want to continue to develop and learn and try and make myself a better player.
"I have had a taste of what it takes to play at a higher level and I think I am in the best environment to help me achieve that with Dean Ryan at Gloucester."
Gloucester's head coach Ryan, who has already sealed new deals for centre Jack Adams and prop Jack Forster, was equally as thrilled for the centre.
"Anthony's quality is obvious to see and to have the chance to work with him over the long-term is a fantastic position for our club to be in.
"He is a tremendous talent, makes very few mistakes and is an individual we would aim to build a team around in the future. We were delighted when he made his England debut because it confirms our thoughts on him are correct and I am sure he will only get better.
"For a young man he is exceptionally mature, he has a great attitude and is keen to learn. I am delighted he has decided to sign for us - it shows Gloucester's ambition in the long-term."
Speaking ahead of Saturday's Aviva Premiership fixture at home to Newcastle Falcons (kick off 3pm), Director of Rugby David Humphreys emphasised the importance this weekend of Gloucester building on last week's impressive home victory against the Exeter Chiefs.
Speaking to the assembled national and local media, try-scorer Jonny May was delighted and relieved to have tasted victory on Saturday evening, and is looking forward to the European Rugby Challenge Cup final.
Tom Savage delivered a Man of the Match performance against Exeter Chiefs on his birthday on Saturday evening. He spoke to GRTV after the game about the importance of the European Rugby Challenge Cup win.
Speaking to the local media this week, John Afoa described the hard work that the Cherry and White have been putting in and that he is fighting fit ready for Saturday's European Rugby Challenge Cup semi final clash with Exeter Chiefs.
Gloucester Rugby face Exeter Chiefs this Saturday in the European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final, and Charlie Sharples, who starts at full back is relishing the challenge of the big Kingsholm occasion.
Gloucester meet the Exeter Chiefs for the fourth time in competitive action this weekend, this time in the semi-final of the European Rugby Challenge Cup. Director of Rugby David Humphreys told the local media this week that this is the sort of game that Gloucester want to be involved in on a regular basis and that he and his team are looking forward to it.
Following the 29-26 loss to Harlequins, club captain Billy Twelvetrees spoke of his disappointment that the Cherry and Whites were unable to cash in on the home side's indiscipline and lose a lead on Saturday afternoon.
Number eight Gareth Evans admitted to a collective feeling of frustration as Gloucester lost narrowly at Harlequins on Saturday, but insisted that there are plenty of positives to draw upon ahead of next Saturday's European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final at home to Exeter.
Gloucester Rugby return to Aviva Premiership action against the Newcastle Falcons on Saturday (Kingsholm, kick off 3pm), and make several changes to the side that defeated Exeter Chiefs at home last weekend.
With a fantastic rugby season coming to a thrilling climax and the prospect of the world's best battling it out in our back garden in September and October, there has never been a better time to quiz your Gloucester Rugby and home nation heroes on what makes them tick.