DEFENDER Elliott Ward singled out Cherries’ swift adaptation to life in the Championship as his primary reason for signing a new contract.

The experienced centre-half, who signed for an initial 12 months from Norwich City over the summer, yesterday agreed terms on a fresh two-and-a-half year deal at Dean Court.

Ward recently returned to the starting line-up having spent six weeks on the sidelines with a pulled calf muscle picked up at Burnley in November.

Before that, the former Nottingham Forest loanee missed just one league match, with Eddie Howe having persuaded the towering presence to sign by sending him a personalised DVD to showcase Cherries’ style of play.

And after experiencing Howe’s mantra for himself over the first half of the season, the 28-year-old centre-half was convinced enough to commit to the club until the summer of 2016.

Ward explained: “When I signed the one-year contract, it was with the view to how things went and I have really enjoyed myself over these first six months.

“It has been good for both me and the club and we have worked well together so far.

“We had a good start and we had to learn quickly with a few results but that was fine. Everything was quite new but, together, I think we have pulled through quite well.

“It was important for me to see how the club worked and how and where they wanted to go to. We have taken some good steps forward this season.

“There is a long way to go but I have really bought into what the club wants to do and how far they want to go. Hopefully, I can be a part of that.”

In addition to 31 appearances across two loan spells at the City Ground last season, Ward boasts a wealth of Championship experience elsewhere, featuring 39 times for Norwich City during their promotion to the Premier League in 2011.

Before that, he racked up more than 100 second-flight matches in four years at Coventry City and has also enjoyed loan spells at Peterborough United, Bristol Rovers, Plymouth Argyle, Doncaster Rovers and Preston North End.