WILL JAMES, the lock who has just returned to Gloucester following World Cup commitments with Wales, has agreed a new two-year contract extension.
The 6ft 6in second row forward, who burst onto the Guinness Premiership last season after signing from the Cornish Pirates, will remain at Gloucester until 2010.
James (30) made 18 appearances in all competitions in his debut season for the club last year and notched one try. He has four Wales caps to his name.
"The last few months have been an incredible journey for me in terms of my rugby development and to get this opportunity to stay at Gloucester in one of the most exciting times in the club's history is great," he said.
"To have experienced international rugby with Wales, been part of the World Cup and be involved with one of the best teams in the Guinness Premiership is fantastic - I just want to become the best player I can in this environment.
"Gloucester have assembled a wonderful group of players, head coach Dean Ryan is clear about his aims for the future and I want to play my part in that - signing this contract gives me some stability for the future."
Gloucester's head coach Ryan added: "Since joining the club, Will has made a big impression. He is a dynamic ball carrier, a very good athlete and a player who has added significantly to our squad.
"We are building what we believe is a very competitive squad that is capable of challenging for honours and Will has a big part to play in that.
"I am pleased we are able to keep announcing these signings because it emphasises what we are doing is right - and that is excellent news for the club."
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).