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 to the local media this week, back row flanker Jacob Rowan said that he is excited for the challenge at the Ricoh Arena this Sunday, and added that the players know the responsibility is theirs to deliver against the league leaders.
Ben Morgan was on media duty this week, and as Gloucester prepare for Sunday's trip to Wasps, the number eight is looking forward to see Gloucester go toe-to-toe with another of the Aviva Premiership's front runners.
Tom Marshall scored his first Gloucester try in the 31-23 win over Saracens on Friday evening and was named Man of the Match. Talking to GRTV, he praised the forwards for setting the tone on the night.
Matt Scott was on media duty this week, and the Scottish international spoke about the benefit of having a full week of training with his club mates and the determination to get back to performing well against Saracens this Friday evening.
Last Friday night saw Gloucester Rugby Head of Community Adam Balding present a cheque for £7082.82 to the Royal British Legion as a result of a series of fundraising during the Remembrance Period in November.
Gloucester battled bravely against Wasps on Sunday, but it was a case of taking chances at the Ricoh Arena. Gloucester didn't make the most of theirs while Wasps did, and that proved to be the difference.
Gloucester were competitive for long periods at the Ricoh Arena on Sunday afternoon, but were left to rue a host of missed scoring opportunities throughout as Wasps hit back to earn a 35-22 Aviva Premiership win.
Gloucester's Ciaran Knight made his first start at tighthead prop, Henry Walker made his first appearance as a second half replacement and Alex Seville also featured as England U20s might it three from three in the U20s Six Nations with a 46-0 win over Italy in Darlington on Friday night.