GLOUCESTER Rugby's recruitment process for next season continues with the news that this year's Guinness Premiership finalists have secured the services of Australia hooker Jeremy Paul from the ACT Brumbies on a three-year deal.
Paul, capped 72 times by the Wallabies since his debut against Scotland in 1998, will join up with his new team-mates at Kingsholm following the conclusion of the World Cup in France this autumn.
In his career to date he has won most of the game's major honours including the 1999 World Cup and two Tri-Nations titles with Australia, plus two Super 12 titles with the Brumbies. In 2005, Paul received the highest individual award in the Australian game when he was awarded the John Eales medal, voted for by his fellow internationals.
"This is a major signing for Gloucester Rugby and I'm delighted that Jeremy will be running out at Kingsholm next season," head coach Dean Ryan told www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk.
"He will add tremendously to the talent at our disposal, but more importantly as someone with more than 70 international caps he will bring huge experience and leadership qualities to the side.
"We're building a squad capable of consistently challenging for the major domestic and European honours, and Jeremy is a key part of the jigsaw."
Paul, 29, was born in New Zealand but moved to Brisbane as a teenager where he began his career with Easts Rugby Club. After starring for the Australian Under 21's in 1997, Paul joined the ACT Brumbies in 1998, making his Super 12 debut against the Cats and Test debut against Scotland in the same year.
"I've been fortunate to be involved in one of the most exciting periods for Australian rugby and I would like to take this opportunity to thank the ACT Brumbies and the Wallabies for playing such an important part in my life for so long," said Paul.
"I still have some ambitions to fulfill in the international game before I depart, but this is a new chapter in my life for both my family and I, and we're really looking forward to moving to the UK.
"I had the opportunity to visit Kingsholm to watch a match and it certainly lived up to its reputation. I met with Dean Ryan and the coaching staff and we share a lot of common beliefs about how the game should be played. Hartpury College is a really impressive training set-up and I know that if we continue to get things right off the field then we'll have a lot of success on it."
Paul, who has signed up to Gloucester until June 2010, reinforces Dean Ryan's options at hooker. Last month they announced the signing of Andy Titterrell from Sale, plus the re-signing of French forward Olivier Azam for next season. England under-20 hooker Ross McMillan will be in his second year with the club since joining from Nottingham last summer.
Speaking straight after the game, skipper Billy Twelvetrees told GRTV that losing at home to Bath, in front of a tremendous home support, was desperately disappointing and that the whole team were hurting in the dressing room.
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.
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.