Newport Gwent Dragons duo Tom Willis and Gavin Thomas have agreed two year contract extensions to stay with the Region until May 2012.
All Black Tom Willis has been the Dragons captain for the past two seasons after joining from Super 14 team, Waikato Chiefs playing 41 times from the Dragons so far.
Speaking on the extension Willis said: "I am delighted to have signed a contract extension with the Dragons. When I came here two years ago I felt that this was a young team who wanted to develop and improve, I felt that I could help contribute towards this growth. Over the past two seasons I feel we have made considerable progress and this has been reflected in our performances this season. The team here has a great spirit and all are looking to improve both individually and as a unit and I am pleased that I am going to continue to be part of this development going forward."
22 Capped Welsh International Gavin Thomas, who joined at the start of the 2009/2010 season from the Scarlets, and has played 21 times for the Dragons said:
"I am really pleased to have signed a contract extension with the Dragons. I have really enjoyed playing for the team this year and it's been great to have got a run of games under my belt. The team and organisation are looking to improve all the time and the new training facilities are just one example of this. There's a great team sprit here and I am delighted that I am going to be a part of it over the next two seasons."
Speaking of the signings Rugby Manager, Robert Beale said:
"It's great news that both these players have agreed contract extensions with us. Tom has been an excellent Captain for us both on and off the field, whilst Gavin has also been a major performer for us this season. They are key players in terms of performances on the pitch and the experience they bring to the organisation and in helping develop our younger players. We are looking to continue with this development and growth and I am confident both players will be key contributors to this over the next two years"
As part of the build-up to next month's Cardiff 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals weekend, ERC has joined forces with the WRU, Cardiff Blues and adidas to develop an annual grassroots community rugby programme targeting young players.
The Ulster Rugby full back, Jared Payne (No 15), has been suspended for two (2) weeks following an independent Disciplinary Hearing in Dublin arising from the Heineken Cup quarter-final match against Saracens at Ravenhill Stadium on Saturday, 5 April.