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 recorded a 32-20 win over La Rochelle on Thursday evening, and second row Jeremy Thrush was thrilled to pick up the victory on his first taste of a trip to France and the hostile atmosphere.
Gloucester were forced to battle for their 33-20 victory in La Rochelle on Thursday evening, something that centre Bill Meakes said that he and the squad were well prepared for as well as thanking the travelling support for the part they played.
Gloucester got off to a winning start in the European Rugby Challenge Cup last weekend, but Head Coach Laurie Fisher is expecting a much tougher challenge when the Cherry and Whites travel to La Rochelle for Thursday night's Round Two encounter.
Dan Thomas was a try scorer in the 14-62 defeat at the hands of the Barbarians on Tuesday evening, but told GRTV after the game that he'd really enjoyed taking on the Barbarians and locking horns with Ardie Savea at the breakdown.
After a long, hard battle to return to fitness, Henry Trinder made his long awaited comeback in the second half of the 23-10 win over Zebre on Saturday and admitted he was taken aback by the reception he got from the Kingsholm crowd.
21 year old number eight Lewis Ludlow formed part of a physical back row effort in the 23-10 European Rugby Challenge Cup over Zebre on Saturday. Speaking to GRTV after the game, he spoke of making the most of his chances and being happy to contribute to the Gloucester win.
Gloucester United kick off their Aviva Premiership A League campaign against Leicester Tigers at Welford Road on Monday evening (kick off 7pm) and have named a side which features lots of first team experience.