TWO of Gloucester Rugby's brightest young stars have signed deals that will keep them at Kingsholm until 2007.
Olly Morgan and Mark Foster have become the first players to pledge their futures to the club as head coach Dean Ryan moves to tie down a number of his brightest prospects.
Both Morgan and Foster have become key members of the squad this season that has heralded a new dawn in the development of the side and as a result have completed two-year deals.
"These guys are the future of Gloucester Rugby," Ryan told www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk. "We have recognised they represent the future of the club and we want them to be a part of it. They are young, exciting players who have started to prove themselves this season.
"It was vital the club took steps to ensure they remained at Gloucester and I am delighted everything as been concluded."
Morgan, a 20-year-old full-back from Millfield School, has played in the last four Guinness Premiership matches after coming into the side in the European Challenge Cup against Bayonne in October.
He is a former England Under-19 international and his form has been so impressive that he has kept the more experienced Jon Goodridge out of the side.
He said: "I am really happy with the way everything has been going for me so far this season.
"I think I have been playing pretty consistently in the last six or seven matches and it's nice to know I have a new two-year contract and some security.
"All I am thinking about now is the rest of the season and helping us qualify for the Heineken Cup next year and up the Premiership because that is where this team needs to be.
"I am really enjoying myself and to have my future secure is fantastic."
Foster (22) has made eight Guinness Premiership appearances this season and has one try to his name - against Saracens last month.
He also found his way to the line against Bayonne in Europe and said: "I couldn't think of a club I would rather be at.
"I was quite shocked that Dean [Ryan] wanted to sort something out so soon but it's fantastic for me and I really want to start putting down some roots at the club.
"We have a young side and it's a pleasure to be a part of it. I worked really hard during the summer with Mike Anthony [conditioner] and Bryan Redpath [assistant coach] and hopefully things have started to pay off for me.
It's the first Gloucester-Bristol derby at Kingsholm in over eight years this Saturday (kick off 4:30pm) and, previewing the game with the local media this week, Defence Coach Jonny Bell stressed that, with both teams in the bottom half of the table, they both need the points.
Speaking to the local media this week, Gloucester front rower John Afoa knows the challenge ahead this week against Bristol, and calls on the Cherry and Whites to make the most of home advantage as a determined squad look to bounce back from a narrow loss to Saracens.
Tom Savage speaks to GRTV and the local media as Gloucester went down by 24-20 at Saracens on Sunday afternoon. The second row was disappointed with the result, despite a strong showing from the hosts.
Speaking immediately after the game, skipper Willi Heinz thought that Gloucester had executed their game plan reasonably well and competed hard against Saracens. However, it wasn't enough but the squad will have plenty to work on this week ahead of the derby match against Bristol.
Gloucester may be coming off their best win of the season, the 38-16 victory over Wasps last weekend, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys admits that Sunday's trip to Saracens is an even tougher test.
After a series of contract announcements last week, hooker Richard Hibbard is the latest Gloucester Rugby player to commit to a new contract at the club and told GRTV how much he enjoys playing in the Cherry and White of Gloucester.
Talk about a game of two halves. Things looked grim on Saturday as Gloucester trailed 0-6 to Bristol at half-time. However, Matt Scott's eighth try of the season got Gloucester off and running, and the visitors fell apart as the Cherry and Whites eased to a 26-18 bonus point Aviva Premiership win.