ALL BLACK prop Greg Somerville has signed a two-and-a-half-year contract with Gloucester Rugby, and will complete the move to Kingsholm from the Canterbury Crusaders in December following the completion of the New Zealand domestic season.
The versatile prop, who can play either loose-head or tight-head, has a wealth of experience as one of the most distinguished front row forwards in the southern hemisphere.
Somerville, 30, became the most decorated prop in New Zealand history with 59 caps when he appeared for the All Blacks against England in the second Test in Christchurch on Saturday. A renowned scrummaging expert, he will be a hugely important addition to Dean Ryan's squad.
"The market is now making players of Greg's experience, calibre and undoubted expertise available and once we appreciated his interest and desire to add significantly to our squad, we were thrilled to sign him," Ryan told www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk
"To have represented the All Blacks in more than 50 Test matches and be versatile to operate on either side of the scrum, means he is an outstanding acquisition for us at this stage of his career.
"With the likes of Christian Califano and Patrice Collazo leaving the club, we needed an option that could benefit us long-term and we have managed to combine experience, versatility and expertise in one package and that is fantastic for the club."
Somerville made his debut for Canterbury in an NPC semi-final in 1998, was a Crusader the following season, and an All Black within two years of his first representative appearance.
He made his Test debut in 2000 against Tonga and the Hawke's Bay-raised prop became the fourth man to play a century of matches for the Crusaders when he featured in the 2006 Super 14 semi-final victory over the Bulls.
Somerville said: "I have achieved virtually everything possible in New Zealand rugby and to have represented the All Blacks will always be something very special to me.
"But this opportunity has developed and the chance to experience a new culture for myself and my family, and contribute to a side that is already right at the top of the English Premiership was an exciting opportunity to take up.
"I am looking forward to contributing to Dean Ryan's side and prove myself in different conditions and against different opponents.
"Gloucester's front row options are already very talented and I am looking forward to adding to that mix next season."
Speaking after the 37-8 European Rugby Challenge Cup win over Benetton Treviso, James Hook admitted that the Italian side made things tough for Gloucester at times but that the Cherry and Whites are happy to take the bonus point win and turn their focus to Northampton next week.
Speaking to GRTV after the game, Backs Coach Tim Taylor was happy with the squad as they cruised to victory over Treviso. The result wasn't in doubt, but the Cherry and Whites laboured to secure a crucial try bonus point.
Speaking to the local media this week, Gloucester Rugby centre Matt Scott is excited to take the field again as the Cherry and Whites look to build on the win in Bayonne when Treviso come to Kingsholm this Saturday.
Defence Coach Jonny Bell admitted this week that the European Rugby Challenge Cup victory in Bayonne was a welcome one, stressed that Benetton Treviso will pose a tough test on Saturday at Kingsholm but that Gloucester are determined to deliver in front of their own fans.
Motu Matu'u is looking to make up for lost time this week as the Cherry and Whites head to Basque Country to take on Bayonne in the European Rugby Challenge Cup opener. The Samoan hooker made his first appearance in the jersey last weekend, and is hoping to contribute to the team this weekend.
Gloucester's attentions turn to Europe this weekend as they travel to Bayonne for their opening fixture of this season's European Rugby Challenge Cup. Forwards Coach Trevor Woodman told GRTV that the Cherry and Whites will be aiming to top their pool as they've done for the past two seasons, but is well aware of how tough it is to win in France.
Although understandably disappointed at seeing victory slip away at the last minute, Ben Morgan said after the game at Exeter that there were plenty of positives that Gloucester could take from the game.
Gloucester made it two wins from two outings in this season's European Rugby Challenge Cup as they outplayed Benetton Treviso at Kingsholm to win by 37 points to 8, the bonus point try coming with the final play of the game.