Gloucester Rugby Club received a massive boost ahead of Friday night's Heineken Cup clash away at Ulster with the news that Phil Vickery has signed a contract extension that will see the 28 year-old prop stay at the Kingsholm club until the end of the 2006/07 season.
The England and Lions international had two seasons to run on his current four-year contract, and the new package has added an extra year.
Vickery, who has made more than 120 appearances for the Kingsholm club, returned to first team duties on Sunday with a full 80 minutes after missing the last six weeks with a blow-out fracture around the eye area.
Commenting on http://www.gloucesterrugbyclub.com/ director of rugby Nigel Melville said: "It was great to have Vicks back involved on Sunday. He brings massive experience and leadership to the squad, and the new contract means he'll be part of the set-up here as we continue to develop.
"I believe that we've still to see the best of him. I said last week I'd never seen him train so hard as he has done, and that's great news for both Phil and us.
"He's got some great years ahead of him and we're pleased that those will be spent here at Kingsholm."
Vickery, who made his debut for Gloucester in the 1996/97 season, added: "I'm pleased my future is at Kingsholm. It's been a mixed season so far what with injuries and team results, but I want to be part of where this club is going, and it's now the start of a mission for us.
"We know how important Friday's game is, and that is followed by a Powergen Cup quarter-final and then key Premiership games. We know what we've got to do in the next few months."
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.