ALEX BROWN has followed in the footsteps on Andy Hazell by agreeing a three-year contract extension that will keep him at Gloucester Rugby until 2011.
The brilliant second row forward, one of the standout performers in Gloucester's march to Twickenham last season, has been a Kingsholm regular since his switch from Bristol four seasons ago.
In that time Brown has racked up 105 Gloucester appearances in all competitions that has marked him down as one of the most consistent, dependable and complete performers in the Premiership.
The 28-year-old - who has three England caps to his name following appearances during the summer tour to South Africa - is approaching his prime and spoke of his delight at securing his future.
"There are many things I would like to achieve in the game and I want to achieve them with Gloucester," Brown told www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk
"We are a young and developing squad with plenty of ability and I want to play my part as we build a successful team, not just domestically but in Europe too. Every competition is getting tougher by the season but last year's experience has only made us more determined to challenge for top honours every year.
"I have known Dean Ryan for many years, his vision for the club and understanding of how he wants to achieve it means I am in the right place to realise my goals. Being able to stay at such a great club is tremendous for me.
"I am really pleased everything has been concluded and now we can focus on making a solid start in the Premiership."
The conclusion of Brown's deal follows hot on the heels of Andy Hazell, who also agreed a new three-year extension last week.
Brown is key to Gloucester's strategic line-out operation and head coach Dean Ryan added: "I have had the luxury of working with Alex for a number of years and he is quite simply a phenomenally durable and talented player.
"He has developed massively since joining Gloucester four years ago, not only is he a terrific athlete but as a tactician and organiser there are very few that can match his all-round qualities.
"Alex is the sort of individual you can build a team round in the future - we want Gloucester to be a stable environment to generate success and this signing shows that."
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.
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).