JAKE BOER, Gloucester Rugby's South African-born flanker, has agreed a new one-year contract extension to remain at Kingsholm until 2007.
One of the most influential members of Dean Ryan's squad, Boer is re-establishing the sort of form that carried him to the Zurich Premiership player of the year award in 2003 - the same season he lifted the Powergen Cup with Gloucester - and the same campaign when he walked away with the Overseas Player of the Year award.
Arguably Gloucester's form back rower at present, Boer joined Gloucester in 2000 from London Irish and has since made 127 Premiership appearances with 20 tries for the club as well as enjoying a stint as captain.
"I love playing for Gloucester - I always have and always will," Boer said. "Last season was not the easiest for anyone involved with the club but I feel I am getting back to the form of a couple of season's ago.
"I don't think my effort and commitment has ever been in question and now I just want to concentrate on getting Gloucester as far up the Guinness Premiership as possible and continuing our quest in Europe.
"To have the security of another year is really pleasing and I just want to get on with the rest of the season now - I am delighted everything has been concluded."
Equally at home at number six or eight, Boer produced an outstanding performance against Leicester last weekend and Ryan added: "I am delighted Jake has signed for another year - at present he is our form back row forward.
"He has consistently made top-quality contributions and that is a very important factor with a lot of young players coming through behind.
"I think he is back to where he was a year or so a go when he was one of Gloucester's stand-out performers. He does the majority of his talking on the field and is hugely competitive which is why we want him around."
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).