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."
Gloucester have been in good form in recent weeks, but Backs Coach Tim Taylor knows that the Cherry and Whites will have to be at their best on Thursday evening (kick off 7:45pm) against a Stade Rochelais side flying high this season.
Speaking to GRTV after the bonus point win over Bristol, back row Lewis Ludlow revealed that despite a tricky first half, Gloucester backed their skills to come through, a faith that was evident in a strong second half showing.
Willi Heinz scored Gloucester's second try as the Cherry and Whites overturned a disappointing first 40 minutes and 0-6 half time deficit, to earn a 26-18 Aviva Premiership victory over Bristol Rugby on Saturday.
It's the first Gloucester-Bristol derby at Kingsholm in over eight years this Saturday (kick off 4:30pm) and, previewing the game with the local media this week, Defence Coach Jonny Bell stressed that, with both teams in the bottom half of the table, they both need the points.
Speaking to the local media this week, Gloucester front rower John Afoa knows the challenge ahead this week against Bristol, and calls on the Cherry and Whites to make the most of home advantage as a determined squad look to bounce back from a narrow loss to Saracens.
Tom Savage speaks to GRTV and the local media as Gloucester went down by 24-20 at Saracens on Sunday afternoon. The second row was disappointed with the result, despite a strong showing from the hosts.
After taking 11 points from their last three games in the Aviva Premiership, including bonus point wins against Wasps and Bristol, Gloucester will be looking to continue their good form when they welcome La Rochelle to Kingsholm.
Having named an unchanged starting XV for the past three Aviva Premiership games, Gloucester Rugby ring the changes and retain only five players for Thursday's visit of Stade Rochelais in the European Rugby Challenge Cup (kick off 7:45pm).