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.
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.
On a tough evening at Kingsholm, Gloucester could escape neither a suffocating Bath defence, nor the whistle of referee Greg Garner as six penalties and a penalty try paved the way to a 39-16 win for the visitors.
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).