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."
Gloucester have been in good form in recent weeks, but Backs Coach Tim Taylor knows that the Cherry and Whites will have to be at their best on Thursday evening (kick off 7:45pm) against a Stade Rochelais side flying high this season.
Speaking to GRTV after the bonus point win over Bristol, back row Lewis Ludlow revealed that despite a tricky first half, Gloucester backed their skills to come through, a faith that was evident in a strong second half showing.
Willi Heinz scored Gloucester's second try as the Cherry and Whites overturned a disappointing first 40 minutes and 0-6 half time deficit, to earn a 26-18 Aviva Premiership victory over Bristol Rugby on Saturday.
It's the first Gloucester-Bristol derby at Kingsholm in over eight years this Saturday (kick off 4:30pm) and, previewing the game with the local media this week, Defence Coach Jonny Bell stressed that, with both teams in the bottom half of the table, they both need the points.
Speaking to the local media this week, Gloucester front rower John Afoa knows the challenge ahead this week against Bristol, and calls on the Cherry and Whites to make the most of home advantage as a determined squad look to bounce back from a narrow loss to Saracens.
Tom Savage speaks to GRTV and the local media as Gloucester went down by 24-20 at Saracens on Sunday afternoon. The second row was disappointed with the result, despite a strong showing from the hosts.
Speaking immediately after the game, skipper Willi Heinz thought that Gloucester had executed their game plan reasonably well and competed hard against Saracens. However, it wasn't enough but the squad will have plenty to work on this week ahead of the derby match against Bristol.
Having named an unchanged starting XV for the past three Aviva Premiership games, Gloucester Rugby ring the changes and retain only five players for Thursday's visit of Stade Rochelais in the European Rugby Challenge Cup (kick off 7:45pm).
Gloucester centre Billy Twelvetrees praised his side's character after their comeback win against Bristol on Saturday. The Cherry and Whites overcame a 6-0 half time deficit to eventually win the game 26-18 and secure a bonus point victory.