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."
Defence Coach Jonny Bell admitted this week that the European Rugby Challenge Cup victory in Bayonne was a welcome one, stressed that Benetton Treviso will pose a tough test on Saturday at Kingsholm but that Gloucester are determined to deliver in front of their own fans.
Motu Matu'u is looking to make up for lost time this week as the Cherry and Whites head to Basque Country to take on Bayonne in the European Rugby Challenge Cup opener. The Samoan hooker made his first appearance in the jersey last weekend, and is hoping to contribute to the team this weekend.
Gloucester's attentions turn to Europe this weekend as they travel to Bayonne for their opening fixture of this season's European Rugby Challenge Cup. Forwards Coach Trevor Woodman told GRTV that the Cherry and Whites will be aiming to top their pool as they've done for the past two seasons, but is well aware of how tough it is to win in France.
Although understandably disappointed at seeing victory slip away at the last minute, Ben Morgan said after the game at Exeter that there were plenty of positives that Gloucester could take from the game.
Speaking after a last-gasp try from Exeter earned the Chiefs a 27-27 draw at Sandy Park on Saturday, Charlie Sharples admitted to mixed feelings. The game saw him score a try on his 200th competitive appearance for the club, but the frustration from not closing out the win was clear.
David Humphreys was minutes away from a winning interview on Saturday afternoon, but a late try from Exeter Chiefs meant the points were shared at Sandy Park. Humphreys spoke with the local media after the 27-27 draw.
Speaking to the media ahead of Saturday's Aviva Premiership fixture away at Exeter Chiefs, Director of Rugby David Humphreys reiterated that there are elements of Gloucester's game that are in good shape at present, that the performance against Bath was a step forward from Newcastle but that individual errors are costing the Cherry and Whites dear.
Centre Matt Scott, a try-scorer in Bayonne last weekend, insists that Gloucester are taking nothing for granted when they welcome Benetton Treviso to Kingsholm on Saturday in the European Rugby Challenge Cup (kick off 3pm).