ONE OF the most devastating and exciting game-breakers in the country - James Simpson-Daniel - has become the latest Gloucester player to sign an extension to his contract.
The Kingsholm star has signed a two-year extension to his current deal that will now run until 2011.
After joining Gloucester straight from Sedbergh School in 2000, Simpson-Daniel (25) has become one of the most devastating finishers in Gloucester's recent history. In 140 appearances in all competitions, he has scored 66 times as well as winning 10 England caps.
"Gloucester is the only professional rugby club I have ever known - it was the one that made me feel most welcome and at home when I left school and sometimes it is hard to imagine playing anywhere else," Simpson-Daniel told www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk
"To have the opportunity to re-sign and extend my contact here at such an exciting and breakthrough time for the club is a massive thing for me - I am really pleased to have the chance to help Gloucester to bigger and better things.
"There is a clear vision in place for the future - on and off the field - and I want to play my part in that. I love the atmosphere, the level of support and sheer passion for the game. It is impossible not to be inspired by that.
"Dean Ryan has put a lot of faith in me and I want to re-pay that. It is clear with the signings that have been made this season that the club really intends to challenge for major honours - that is what I am here for and what I want to do."
Gloucester's head coach Dean Ryan, who has also been able to announce the signing of flanker Andy Hazell and Alex Brown recently, added: "James is an outstanding player - a natural athlete and game-breaker who has the ability to change the course of a match with one break, one pass or a piece of vision.
"There are not many individuals in the country that possess the range of skills James has. He is an international-quality player and I think it says a great deal about where we want Gloucester to be that we have moved now to retain his services.
"James is a central figure at the club, is still developing and evolving as a player and this extra security for him is of huge significance to the club. I think Gloucester supporters will be thrilled he has re-signed until 2011."
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.
After a series of contract announcements last week, hooker Richard Hibbard is the latest Gloucester Rugby player to commit to a new contract at the club and told GRTV how much he enjoys playing in the Cherry and White of Gloucester.
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.