NICK WOOD, one of the brightest front row prospects in the country, has signed a new two-year contract extension with Gloucester that will keep him at Kingsholm until July 2008.
The loosehead prop, who has represented England at Under-21 level, is regarded as one of the biggest talents at the club by head coach Dean Ryan and joins Mark Foster and Olly Morgan who have already pledged their futures to Gloucester.
Wood has made five starts in all competitions this season and has two tries to his name. In total, he has started 18 times for Gloucester and has made 15 more appearances as a replacement. His new deal will begin in July 2006.
"Nick is a player who has a very bright future and we have made it our business to keep talented players like him at the club," Ryan told www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk
"He is learning all the time with the players he has around him and developing very quickly. There are not many young, talented props around so to keep him at Gloucester is great news for us."
Wood, who will turn 23 on January 9, has been a senior member of the club for three years after spending two in the Academy set-up that has already produced first team stars like James Forrester and Marcel Garvey.
"The contract is fantastic news because it means I can concentrate on playing rugby and I know my future is secure - that is very important," Wood said.
"I have been pleased with the contribution I have made in the games I have played so far. I would obviously like to play more but I have a player in front of me who is vastly experienced and it is my job to learn from him.
"I am working on ensuring my body can handle the pressures of the game but I like to think I am the future of the club and this contract represents that."
Wood follows Morgan and Foster who have also re-signed new deals with Gloucester as Ryan moves to seal deal for a number of his brightest stars.
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).