LUKE NARRAWAY, Gloucester's impressive young number eight, has signed a one-year contract extension that will keep him at Kingsholm until June 2008.
The 23-year-old has made 44 appearances in all competitions since his Premiership debut against Leeds in 2003 and this season he made 18 appearances, scoring two tries. The former England Under-21 and Sevens international is most at home at number eight but can also feature on the flank.
"Luke is already a very good athlete, is versatile and offers plenty of options for us in the back row," said head coach Dean Ryan. "This season he will have learnt a lot following his exposure in the Heineken Cup and Guinness Premiership and we want him to build on it next season.
"We are really pleased with the way the squad has taken shape over the last few months - I firmly believe it will benefit greatly from the last year it has had together and Luke will play an important part in that."
Narraway, who went to school at King's Worcester, added: "We are building something special at this club and I just want the chance to play a part in what Dean Ryan and the rest of the squad are trying to achieve.
"By finishing top of the Guinness Premiership this season we showed we have the quality, durability and desire to consistently challenge for titles.
"The recruitment that has already taken place shows exactly where the club aims to be in the future and I think everyone associated is feeling really positive about next season."
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).