Adam Balding has completed a new deal at Gloucester
ADAM BALDING, Gloucester Rugby's club captain, has become the latest member of Dean Ryan's squad to pledge his future to Kingsholm.
The number eight has sealed a new two-year contract extension that will keep him at Gloucester until June 2008.
He joins youngsters Olly Morgan, Mark Foster and Nick Wood in finalising long-term deals at Kingsholm this season.
"To be honest with you, I am just thrilled," Balding, told www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk. "It seems so long ago since my Leicester days and I like to think I have moved on to bigger and better things.
"I am so pleased with how everything is going and just glad I have the chance to play my part in Gloucester's future for another two years.
"My ambition is to push myself even harder and to play a big part in the team during 2006. My job now is to contribute to the success of this team."
Head coach Dean Ryan added: "Adam is one of our senior players and it is great to secure him to the club long-term.
"He is a player who leads by example, is supremely competitive and is somebody we want to work with for a long time. I am really pleased it has been concluded so quickly.
"To have someone of Adam's ability at the club is a major boost for us."
Balding, who signed from Leicester two years ago, fractured a cheekbone in three places on the opening day of the season against Worcester Warriors.
But the 26-year-old has recovered to resume his position on the back of the Gloucester scrum. His form, attitude and sheer commitment were the standout features during Gloucester's late charge last season that ended in play-off disappointment against Saracens at Twickenham.
However, he was rewarded for his efforts by being made club captain at the start of this season and has made 34 appearances with four tries in his Gloucester career.
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).