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.
The West Country Challenge Cup fixture against the Exeter Chiefs at the Memorial Stadium in Bristol on Saturday (kick off 3pm) will be Gloucester's last chance to work on things like new combinations says Director of Rugby, David Humphreys.
Speaking after the 30-21 West Country Challenge Cup defeat at Bath, Director of Rugby David Humphreys spoke of the improvements his team are making as preseason progresses but acknowledges that there is still work to do ahead of the start of the Aviva Premiership.
Speaking to the local media ahead of Saturday's trip to Bath Rugby in the West Country Challenge Cup, front rower Nick Wood spoke of the hard work put in across the extended preseason and highlighted the competition for front row spots in the squad.
Gloucester have named a 30 man squad for the latest round of West Country Challenge Cup action against Bath on Saturday, with Director of Rugby David Humphreys stressing the need to keep an eye on player workload ahead of what will be a long, tough season.
Describing the 50-7 West Country Challenge Cup win over Bath on Sunday as a '...good hit out...', wing Charlie Sharples admitted that it had been a good opportunity to put into practice things that the squad have been trying out in training in recent weeks.
Speaking to the local media after the 50-7 victory over Bath Rugby on Sunday, David Humphreys was happy with his squad's effort, with the most important aspect being the game time earned by his players.
Gloucester make wholesale changes to the side that started at Exeter last Saturday as they prepare to take on Bath at the Memorial Stadium, Bristol on Sunday in the West Country Challenge Cup (kick off 3pm). The Director of Rugby told GRTV that the players are raring to go and that he's looking forward to seeing different combinations in action.
Speaking ahead of the West Country Challenge Cup meeting with Bath Rugby this Sunday, front rower Paddy McAllister explained how he was looking forward to running out in Cherry and White after a preseason packed full of hard work.
A late penalty from Exeter fly-half Will Hooley gave the Chiefs a narrow 33-31 West Country Challenge Cup win over a heroic Gloucester outfit in a bruising encounter at the Memorial Stadium on Saturday.
Gloucester Rugby will play their fourth and final West Country Challenge Cup fixture this weekend (Memorial Stadium, Bristol, 3pm) against the Exeter Chiefs, and have named a side featuring a host of first regulars.
On Wednesday evening, Gloucester Rugby duo Mark Atkinson and Tom Savage visited local rugby club Hardwicke and Quedgeley Harlequins RFC for the first session as part of the Gloucester Rugby in Local Clubs coaching initiative.