JONATHAN PENDLEBURY, the 23-year-old Gloucester second row, has agreed a new two-year contract extension at Kingsholm.
The former Rotherham lock has been outstanding since his senior debut in the European Challenge Cup against Toulon last season and has been named on the bench for Gloucester's Guinness Premiership match against Sale tomorrow.
His new deal will run until the end of the 2009 season and will provide another excellent front jumper option for head coach Dean Ryan.
"When he made his debut he ran the line-out against French opposition and did a fantastic job," head coach Dean Ryan said. "Since then, he has impressed everyone with his work ethic and dedication as a professional.
"What he has achieved is testament to his determination and he is the sort of individual we want to have in our squad."
Pendlebury, who joined Gloucester at the start of last season and has made 22 appearances in all competitions with one try, said: "I am thrilled to have earned a new deal at the club.
"To have the opportunity to continue my progression at a club that is making great strides in the Premiership and Europe is fantastic. Dean Ryan showed a lot of faith in me last season and hopefully I have responded through hard work and application.
"This gives me the chance to learn from some fantastic players in the position and I also want to put pressure on the likes of Alex Brown and Marco Bortolami and try and force my way into the first XV."
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).