James Bailey has joined Jon Goodridge in signing new two-year contracts
TWO OF the stars involved in Gloucester's thrilling 34-16 Guinness Premiership victory over Leicester last Friday have signed new two-year contract extensions with the Kingsholm club.
Full-back Jon Goodridge and winger James Bailey have become the latest members of Dean Ryan's squad to pledge their futures to the club until June 2008.
And the news is particularly pleasing for the pair, who combined to such devastating effect during Gloucester's first try against the Tigers last weekend.
"What can I say - I am ecstatic about staying at the club," Goodridge told www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk. "There was a time when I was not sure if I was coming or going but Dean [Ryan] pulled me aside a few weeks ago and told me I would be staying.
"I have been at the club quite a long time now and it was a great feeling. I couldn't envisage playing my rugby anywhere else so to get another two years gives me a good deal of security.
"I think that came through on Friday because I was able to go out and play with confidence in what was a great team performance."
The 24-year-old - he will turn 25 at the end of this month - made his competitive debut for Gloucester against London Irish in the 2000/1 season and has since gone on to make 61 appearances with 11 tries. Last season he was an ever present with 22 Premiership appearances to his name and in 2004 was voted the season ticket holders' Young Player of the Year. He was also shorted listed for the PRA Young Player of the Year award.
It was Goodridge's pick up and break that helped create Bailey's try against Leicester, and the former Bristol winger, who has crossed the whitewash three times this season, added: "I had to wait a long time for an opportunity but now I don't want to give my place up in the side.
"I know it's a cliché but I am just taking everything one game at a time. I got an opportunity before Christmas and ever since I have been going out and giving it my best.
"There is competition throughout the squad and I want to be a part of that. To have the security of another two years means I can start to settle down and make plans - it's a massive boost for me."
Bailey signed from Bristol in the summer of 2004 following a remarkable scoring record at the Memorial Stadium. Regarded as a sevens specialist, he has grabbed tries against Saracens, Wasps and Leicester.
In total, he has made 13 Premiership appearances but it has been this season when his breakthrough has been made.
Ryan, speaking of the contract extensions, added: "The real success of this season so far has been that nobody in the squad is guaranteed their place in the side. Jon has plenty of Premiership experience and despite limited opportunities this season, produced a really courageous performance on Friday.
"Strength in depth is vital to the success of any team and both James and Jon have come in and really taken their chances. I am delighted for the both of them and it is another sign the club is moving in the right direction."
Speaking to GRTV after the 40-29 Aviva A League win over Wasps Rugby, Academy Coach Rich Whiffin explained his pride in the squad to overcome a strong opponent and book their spot in next week's Aviva A League final.
Willi Heinz returned from injury to skipper Gloucester to a famous 16-14 win over Stade Rochelais on Saturday evening. Speaking after the game in France, Heinz admitted the win wasn't pretty but was full of courage and a great result for the club.
Billy Burns contributed all Gloucester's points in the 16-14 European Rugby Challenge Cup win in La Rochelle on Saturday evening, but dedicated the victory to the whole squad whilst also praising the travelling support.
Speaking after Gloucester's brave 16-14 win against Stade Rochelais which clinches a European Rugby Challenge Cup final spot, Director of Rugby David Humphreys paid tribute to the way the team had executed the game plan in a hostile environment against quality opposition.
Greig Laidlaw returns to the Gloucester Rugby squad this week, and his inclusion is an important one after a serious ankle injury. The Scottish scrum half is determined to drive the team forward in their European Rugby Challenge Cup semi final in La Rochelle this Saturday.
Gloucester take on La Rochelle in the European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final in France on Saturday evening, with the Top 14 side the favourites in the eyes of the bookmakers. However, David Humphreys is looking for his side to rise to the occasion against a familiar opponent.
Speaking to GRTV after Saturday's 39-30 Aviva Premiership win over Sale, Mark Atkinson admitted that the performance wasn't perfect but that the team's character shone through in a game that could easily have slipped away.
Scotland scrum-half Greig Laidlaw is targeting a 'unique' finish to his Gloucester tenure in the European Rugby Challenge Cup final at the venue where his professional playing career began, BT Murrayfield Stadium (Friday 12 May).