MATTHEW J. WATKINS, one of the most talented game-breakers in the Magners League, has agreed a two-year deal with Gloucester.
The Llanelli midfield star will switch to Kingsholm in the summer and has become the latest international to join Dean Ryan's squad following the announcement of Bath centre Olly Barkley's recruitment.
Watkins, 29, has been capped by Wales 18 times, and has scored 33 tries in 123 appearances since joining the Scarlets in 2002.
Gloucester's head coach Dean Ryan said of the signing: "Matthew has a proven pedigree as a top-class outside centre and he will bring experience, big-game expertise and first-class attitude to our squad.
"We believe his addition to the squad will greatly enhance our options and build further on a group that is progressing really well.
"At Gloucester we are promoting an environment where players have to fight for their places and Matthew's addition emphasises that. I am really pleased he has decided to join us because he was in demand by a number of clubs and for him to choose Gloucester affirms the direction in which we are heading."
Watkins, who is leaving Llanelli midway though a three-year deal, said: "I would like to thank everyone at Llanelli for their help and support during my time at Stradey Park. They are a fantastic club and I wish them every success in the future.
"When the opportunity arose for me to meet with Dean Ryan and look at the set-up in place at Gloucester and their outstanding training facilities at Hartpury College, I knew it was simply too good to refuse.
"When you talk of massive clubs in England and Europe, Gloucester are right up there and I am very fortunate that I now have the opportunity to test myself with them.
"Their ambition is to be challenging regularly for honours and that is why this move is of such importance to me. It is a fantastic opportunity to take my career in a new and fresh direction and I cannot wait to get started."
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).