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."
Fly-half Billy Burns was named Man of the Match after the 35-14 European Rugby Challenge Cup victory over Stade Rochelais on Thursday evening, and was full of praise for all his team mates for the win after a short turnaround.
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.
Gloucester's much changed side had to overcome conceding an early try on Thursday evening, but responded in style to down Stade Rochelais by 35 points to 14 in the European Rugby Challenge Cup and set up a mouthwatering return fixture next weekend.
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.