Aviva Premiership
Walkinshaw determined to keep young stars
ESPNscrum Staff
July 16, 2011
Gloucester's Charlie Sharples touches down, Gloucester v Saracens, Anglo-Welsh Cup, Kingsholm, Gloucester, England, November 13, 2010
Walkinshaw hopes the re-signing of Sharples will herald in a new era of dominance for the Kingsholm side © Getty Images

Gloucester owner Ryan Walkinshaw is hoping star winger Charlie Sharples' new contract will be the first of many signed at Kingsholm in the coming months.

Sharples put pen to paper on a new deal this week that will keep him with the Cherry and Whites until the end of the 2013-14 season and Walkinshaw will now try and tie down the club's other stars in a bid to avoid a repeat of the high-profile departures of last season that saw England internationals Dave Attwood and Paul Doran-Jones and Welsh playmaker Nicky Robinson leave the club.

They are sure to face a battle to retain the services of hot prospects such as Freddie Burns and Henry Trinder but Walkinshaw is confident he will be able to announce more re-signings in the near future and importantly ahead of the January window that allows other clubs to approach their out-of-contract players.

"Hopefully there will be at least two or three more over the coming months," Walkinshaw told the Gloucester Citizen. "It's a change of policy for us as a club, a new strategy, to make sure we secure some of the players we want to build the team and squad around in the years ahead.

"Charlie had said that there was never even any thought in his mind of going anywhere else, so we just thought there was no point in waiting. Normally the standard practice is that you would wait until nearer the turn of the year, when contracts are getting to that point where they would run down.

"And there will still be some players where that's what we will do, to be honest, but for a number of our talented guys who will be in demand, we will follow what we've done with Charlie. We don't want any more Doran-Jones situations to be honest, so to a certain extent it's caution, but it cuts out the possibility of players talking to other clubs."

Despite losing Attwood and Doran-Jones, Gloucester have yet to bring in recognised internationals to replace them. This seems to signify a change of policy in the Kingsholm management as they have previously recruited the likes of All Blacks mercurial fly-half Carlos Spencer and England international Olly Barkley. Walkinshaw, instead, believes his side needs room to manoeuvre in the salary cap to allow them to tie down their young stars onto new contracts.

"This sends out a clear message that we are intent on keeping hold of our top talent, building a team around it and making sure that we promote and develop young local players with ability," Walkinshaw said. "Hopefully it also answers a few questions - if any are lingering - about the salary cap issue and our commitment to spending up to that.

"We've got a number of talented players who will be out of contract at the end of the coming season, and we need provision to cater for hanging on to them."

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