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."
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.
Matt Kvesic was a try scorer and recipient of the Man of the Match award in Sunday's 35-10 European Rugby Challenge Cup win over Zebre. He praised the Italian side for their spirited opposition and admitted that next week's return game will be a tough one.