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.
Previewing Friday evening's local derby at Bristol, Interim Head Coach Jonny Bell told the local media that Gloucester's preparations have gone well and that the whole squad is united in trying to finish the season on a high.
Speaking to GRTV this week, Acting Head Coach Jonny Bell spoke of his pleasure in the efforts and intensity in training from the squad after a tricky few weeks. The team were preparing for big games with Bristol and Cardiff in coming weeks.
Willi Heinz was understandably and visibly disappointed when he spoke to GRTV after the 27-30 home defeat to Harlequins, apologising to the home support as the game slipped away after seemingly having the game under control.
Speaking to the local media this week, Scottish centre Matt Scott spoke of the squad's determination to put in a big home performance against Harlequins, with vital points up for grabs in the hunt for a Top Six spot this Saturday (KO 3pm)
Looking ahead to Saturday's Aviva Premiership fixture at home to Harlequins (kick off 3pm), Head Coach Laurie Fisher told the local media that Gloucester will need to be on top of their game in a match which has big implications in terms of top six ambitions.
A big few days for the Gloucester-Hartpury Women side. First came the news that the team will compete in Women's Super Rugby next season, and on Saturday the team will play Worcester Ladies IIs at Kingsholm. Centre Hannah Jones and wing Michelle Ruddock spoke to GRTV this week to reflect on events.
Missing so many starters, and up against a team fighting for their Premiership existence, Gloucester did what had to be done at Ashton Gate on Friday evening battling their way to a 32-14 Aviva Premiership win over Bristol Rugby.