ENGLAND Under-19 hooker Ross McMillan will join his red rose team-mate Jack Forster at Kingsholm next season after agreeing a two-year contract at Gloucester.
Gloucester beat off the advances of a number of top Premiership clubs to secure the services of McMillan (19), who is regarded as one of the brightest prospects in the country.
He will join some of the most gifted youngsters in the game next season when he teams up with his England front row colleague Forster.
"It's a huge move for me on and off the field," McMillan told www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk. "It will be the first time I will have been involved in a fully professional club and it is something I am massively looking forward to.
"I had quite a few offers from other clubs, both in the Premiership and National One, but my decision was swayed because I know how Gloucester have developed their youngsters in the last few months and I want to play a part in that too.
"Dean Ryan is establishing one of the most talented squads in the country with a lot of players in their early 20s or even younger and the vision he presented to me was very exciting and I want to be a part of it.
"Although I am coming to learn from hugely experienced players like Mefin Davies and Olivier Azam, I want to continue my development and hopefully make an impact - I think this move has come at just the right time for me.
"I know Jack Forster very well and we have spent a long time on the phone talking about Gloucester and it will be great to hopefully play alongside him."
McMillan is currently at Sheffield Hallam University but is ready to defer his degree in PE and Youth Sport to follow his career at Gloucester.
He scored the winning try for England Under-18s in the AER final against France last season and has been a key member of the Nottingham side in National One this season.
Head coach Ryan, who blooded a host of youngsters during Gloucester's victorious European Challenge Cup campaign, including Ryan Lamb, Anthony Allen and Forster, added: "I think Ross's signing is just a continuation of the process we started last season by playing and recruiting some of the most talented youngsters in the country.
"These players have shown they are the future of the club and I am delighted Ross wants to be a part of that. There were other clubs out there who were also keen to sign him but I think it shows what we want to achieve and how we want to achieve it that Ross chose to join Gloucester."
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).