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 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.
Gloucester travel to Italy this weekend to take on Zebre in Round Four of the European Rugby Challenge Cup. The Cherry and Whites defeated the Italian side 35-10 last Sunday, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys is looking for an improved performance in the return fixture.
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.
Gloucester Rugby welcome Sione Kalamafoni, Greig Laidlaw and Tom Palmer back to the starting line up and feature David Halaifonua in a matchday squad for the first time, as they resume Aviva Premiership action against Bath Rugby at Kingsholm on Saturday (kick off 5:30pm).