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."
Gloucester have been in good form in recent weeks, but Backs Coach Tim Taylor knows that the Cherry and Whites will have to be at their best on Thursday evening (kick off 7:45pm) against a Stade Rochelais side flying high this season.
Speaking to GRTV after the bonus point win over Bristol, back row Lewis Ludlow revealed that despite a tricky first half, Gloucester backed their skills to come through, a faith that was evident in a strong second half showing.
Willi Heinz scored Gloucester's second try as the Cherry and Whites overturned a disappointing first 40 minutes and 0-6 half time deficit, to earn a 26-18 Aviva Premiership victory over Bristol Rugby on Saturday.
It's the first Gloucester-Bristol derby at Kingsholm in over eight years this Saturday (kick off 4:30pm) and, previewing the game with the local media this week, Defence Coach Jonny Bell stressed that, with both teams in the bottom half of the table, they both need the points.
Gloucester's much changed side had to overcome conceding an early try on Thursday evening, but responded in style to down Stade Rochelais by 35 points to 14 in the European Rugby Challenge Cup and set up a mouthwatering return fixture next weekend.
After taking 11 points from their last three games in the Aviva Premiership, including bonus point wins against Wasps and Bristol, Gloucester will be looking to continue their good form when they welcome La Rochelle to Kingsholm.