GLOUCESTER have continued their re-signing process ahead of next season by confirming that tough-tackling flanker Alasdair Strokosch has agreed a new two-year contract.
The former Edinburgh number six, an instant hit at Kingsholm following his move south in the summer, has pledged his immediate future to the Guinness Premiership pace-setters following an excellent start to his Gloucester career.
Already renowned for his work-rate, physicality and durability, Strokosch has forced his way into Gloucester's back row with such determination that head coach Dean Ryan has moved quickly to extend his initial one-year deal.
"Alasdair has been a fantastic addition for us," Ryan said. "He brings an extra dimension to our back row options and it is a testament to his ability that he has stood out in that area considering the options we have available.
"He is powerful, dynamic and a really good athlete. We have already seen his value in a number of highly important games for us and I am sure regular exposure to the Guinness Premiership and Heineken Cup will make him an ever better player.
"Through his work-rate, he has exactly the sort of attitude we want at this club. To have impressed so much in a short space of time shows we were right in signing him last season."
Strokosch (24), who has one Scotland cap, has made 14 appearances in all competitions so far this season. He said: "To have the opportunity to play regularly in such demanding competitions is why I chose to join Gloucester and I am delighted at this new deal.
"I want to make an impression, continue my development and keep on improving. This new contract will allow me to do that with some security behind me. Gloucester is a place that eats, sleeps and breathes rugby and to have that support is a fantastic feeling.
"It was a jump to leave what I knew at Edinburgh in the summer but my decision has been totally vindicated. We have a great group of players with some of the most talented guys I have ever worked with, and to be involved with them on a daily basis means I know I am in the right place to further my career."
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.
Speaking to the local media this week, Gloucester front rower John Afoa knows the challenge ahead this week against Bristol, and calls on the Cherry and Whites to make the most of home advantage as a determined squad look to bounce back from a narrow loss to Saracens.
Tom Savage speaks to GRTV and the local media as Gloucester went down by 24-20 at Saracens on Sunday afternoon. The second row was disappointed with the result, despite a strong showing from the hosts.
Speaking immediately after the game, skipper Willi Heinz thought that Gloucester had executed their game plan reasonably well and competed hard against Saracens. However, it wasn't enough but the squad will have plenty to work on this week ahead of the derby match against Bristol.
Gloucester may be coming off their best win of the season, the 38-16 victory over Wasps last weekend, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys admits that Sunday's trip to Saracens is an even tougher test.
Talk about a game of two halves. Things looked grim on Saturday as Gloucester trailed 0-6 to Bristol at half-time. However, Matt Scott's eighth try of the season got Gloucester off and running, and the visitors fell apart as the Cherry and Whites eased to a 26-18 bonus point Aviva Premiership win.