IAIN BALSHAW, the British Lion and England winger/full-back, has joined Gloucester Rugby on a two-year contract from Leeds Tykes.
The 27-year-old is the third international to join Gloucester ahead of next season, following in the footsteps of Italian duo Marco Bortolami and Carlos Nieto.
Balshaw has made 106 Premiership appearances for Bath and Leeds scoring 38 tries, as well as winning 24 England caps as one of the most dangerous game-breakers and broken-field runners in the business.
"We have made some clearly defined and outstanding progress with a group of youngsters this season that has been hugely positive, but alongside that we felt we needed some experience and Iain Balshaw has plenty of that," said Gloucester's head coach Dean Ryan.
"It is a signing I am thrilled about because Iain is a wonderfully expressive and dangerous runner. As a British Lion and England international he will also be a tremendous influence on the young group of backs already making their mark.
"We have made significant additions in other areas of the squad and Iain's arrival once again signals our intent for a season when we will be back in the Heineken Cup."
Speaking of his move to Gloucester, Balshaw told www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk: "I'm really excited to be joining one of the true powers of English rugby. I have been hugely impressed by their play this season and when I met with Dean Ryan was left in no doubt about their vision for next season and beyond.
"Gloucester is a club with massive potential which can only grow in the Heineken Cup next season. You are always aware, no matter what club you play for, of Gloucester's tradition, support and the standing it has in the local community and I cannot wait be a part of it."
Balshaw made his debut for Bath in the 1997/98 season and represented the west country club for seven years, scoring 15 tries in 21 appearances in 1999/2000 - the same season he made his England debut against Ireland.
British Lions selection followed for the tour to Australia in 2001 and Balshaw also picked up a World Cup winner's medal for England in 2003, scoring the crucial try in the win over Samoa in the group stages and coming on as a replacement against Australia in the epic final.
A move to Leeds Tykes in 2004 reunited Balshaw with former Bath coach Jon Callard and an ultimately victorious Powergen Cup run earned Balshaw an England recall and Leeds qualification for the Heineken Cup.
Gloucester will field a reshuffled side against the Ospreys in the LV= Cup this weekend, but Backs & Attack Coach Nick Walshe stressed that it's a great opportunity for everyone on duty on Saturday and that maintaining the recent winning run is very important.
Skipper Billy Twelvetrees told GRTV after the win in Brive that the game could have been a tough one to get up for, but that his Gloucester team mates did themselves proud on the night and got a big result.
Reflecting on the 31-20 victory in Brive on Thursday evening, Director of Rugby David Humphreys said that clinching a home European Rugby Challenge Cup quarter-final was the overall aim and duly achieved.
Gloucester may have already clinched a home European Rugby Challenge Cup quarter-final, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys wants his side to finish the pool stages on a winning note in Brive on Thursday evening.
Speaking after Saturday's win, James Hudson was happy to record a bonus-point win against a hugely physical Oyonnax side as Gloucester secured their passage into the European Rugby Challenge Cup Quarter Finals
Gloucester Rugby have added to their front row strength in depth for next season with the signings of Paul Doran-Jones, Paddy McAllister and Nicky Thomas from Harlequins, Aurillac and the Ospreys respectively.