GARETH DELVE, the Bath and Wales number eight, has signed a three-year contract with Gloucester and will join from west country rivals Bath at the end of the current season.
The formidably built 24-year-old has won four caps for his country since his debut last year and has signed up to Kingsholm until June 2010.
"Gareth is a very significant addition to our squad and I'm delighted to confirm his arrival," said head coach Dean Ryan. "We have made no secret of our aim to compete at the top end of Europe, and world-class players such as Gareth will be key in making this happen.
"As soon as we learned of his availability we moved quickly to show him the Gloucester set-up. Gareth offers considerable physical presence and a dynamic carrying game, which will suit our style perfectly."
Delve, who has made 62 appearances in six seasons at the Rec since joining from Colston's School in Bristol, is currently undergoing treatment after rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee earlier this month against Leicester.
Ryan added: "Obviously his injury hasn't come at the ideal time, particularly for his own World Cup ambitions, but we're determined to support him fully through the rehab process and our environment is ideal to get him back playing rugby as soon as possible.
"In terms of his availability for Gloucester, we'll probably see him return to action around the same time he would have come back from the World Cup anyway, so in that respect not much has changed."
Delve made his Wales debut in the Six Nations Championship of 2006, picking up two caps, gained selection for the summer tour of Argentina and was also in the 2007 Six Nations squad.
Delve said: "I've thoroughly enjoyed my time at Bath and want to thank everyone involved at the club. In particular, I would like to thank my teammates and all the Bath fans that have both given me such great support over the years. Bath Rugby gave me my first full-time contract, so the decision to leave is not one that I have taken lightly.
"I feel, however, that at this stage in my career I need a fresh start and a new challenge to help me realize all my ambitions in the game. After meeting Dean Ryan, it's very clear the direction in which he is taking his squad and they have made significant strides in a short space of time.
"The training ground at Hartpury College is a great facility and the stadium development at Kingsholm this summer should turn the ground into an even more daunting place for away teams, so the whole package is there.
"They already have a number of quality players and I look forward to getting over this injury, improving my game in that environment, making myself a better player and taking the club even further forward - I am very excited at the prospect of facing the challenges that lie ahead of me."
Speaking with the local media before the Gloucester team set off on the long trip north to Newcastle, Director of Rugby David Humphreys discussed his team selection and stated that Friday night's meeting will be a challenging one.
Speaking to the local media on Thursday, Matt Kvesic was looking forward to the trip to Newcastle Falcons, and the captain is looking to lead from the front with plenty for the Cherry and Whites to work on.
Gloucester saw a 12-0 lead overturned by Harlequins on Friday night as the visitors ran out 22-15 winners. After the game, Director of Rugby David Humphreys spoke about missed opportunities on the night.
Speaking to the local media on Thursday, James Hudson explained his excitement for tonight's game with Harlequins and that he is backing the Cherry and White squad to impress during the next set of Aviva Premiership games.
20 year old Lewis Ludlow was one of Gloucester's young guns who contributed hugely to the 18-9 LV= Cup win at London Welsh on Sunday afternoon. After the game, he praised his team mates for the massive team effort by an inexperienced side.
There are three changes to Gloucester Rugby's starting line-up for Friday evening's Aviva Premiership fixture away at Newcastle Falcons. Steve McColl will make his first Premiership start for the club.