Gareth Cooper is thrilled at his move to Gloucester
GARETH COOPER has described his move to Gloucester as 'the opportunity of a life-time' and is determined to make his Kingsholm switch a success.
The Wales scrum-half has signed a two-year deal with the Guinness Premiership club and will compete for the number nine shirt next season with Scotland's Rory Lawson and Mike Prendergast, the Irishman recently signed from Bourgoin.
Cooper, 27, has been capped 30 times so far by his country and will join Dean Ryan's side from the Newport-Gwent Dragons in the summer.
"When you come from Wales there are certain rugby clubs in England that you immediately associate with history, pride and tradition and Gloucester is one of the biggest," Cooper told www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk.
"There is nothing half-hearted about what they are trying to achieve in the Guinness Premiership and Heineken Cup. Their coaching staff are amazingly driven, the squad that is being assembled is one of the best in Europe, and I couldn't pass up the opportunity to be involved with such a progressive and talented set-up.
"This is the opportunity of a life-time for me and Dean Ryan's ambition to make Gloucester the dominant force in club rugby is something I want to be part of.
"I know a lot of people say it, but when you see the training facilities at Hartpury College and understand the direction in which the club is heading, my mind was made up - I think this will be a fantastic move."
Cooper was born in Bridgend and started his rugby career at Pencoed, a club which has also produced Wales legends Scott Gibbs and Gareth Thomas. He was at Bath for four seasons alongside future Gloucester team-mates Mike Tindall and Iain Balshaw, but returned to Wales in 2003 to play for the Celtic Warriors and more recently the Newport Gwent Dragons.
Having been capped at every age-group level, Cooper made his senior Wales debut in the 2001 6 Nations Championship against Italy in Rome, scoring a try after just eight minutes. He was Steve Hansen's first choice number nine for the 2003 World Cup and also toured New Zealand with the British & Irish Lions in 2005.
Speaking about the arrival of Cooper, Gloucester's head coach Dean Ryan added: "Gareth has all the qualities you would associate with an international number nine and his ability to break the line can be devastating to the opposition.
"The signings announced so far and those still to come show the competitive depth we are creating right throughout the squad. I'm really pleased we have been able to recruit Gareth and am expecting big things from him next season."
As Gloucester prepare for their 39th game of the season, against Bordeaux-Begles at Sixways on Sunday, David Humphreys told the local media that this week has been all about getting the players mentally and physically ready after a tough game against Connacht last Sunday.
Speaking to GRTV after the 40-32 victory over Connacht on Sunday, skipper Billy Twelvetrees explained that Gloucester had had to learn to be patient and cut out the errors to earn the win and progress to next weekend's final play-off against Bordeaux-Begles.
Jonny May's superb late score capped a thrilling 40-32 European play-off win over Connacht on Sunday. The winger spoke afterwards of his team's character and spirit as he looked ahead to one more week of rugby.
Speaking to GRTV this afternoon, Director of Rugby David Humphreys hailed the 'never say die' attitude of the team, after despite not being at their best, fighting back to take a 40-32 win after extra time over Connacht.
Jonny May continues on the wing on Sunday as Connacht come to town, and the England wing explains to the local media this week that he is delighted with his form and is looking forward to taking on Pat Lam's men.
Speaking to the local media this week, front rower John Afoa is familiar with the challenge of Connacht from his time in Belfast, and the World Cup winner is fully aware of the challenge they pose ahead of Sunday's meeting in the Champions Cup play off
Speaking ahead of Gloucester's European Rugby Champions play-off against Connacht on Sunday (Kingsholm, 3:30pm), Director of Rugby David Humphreys admitted that he's glad to have more players available than in recent weeks ahead of a tough fixture.
Nick Wood captained the Cherry and Whites on Saturday afternoon, and the experienced front rower expressed his pride in the young squad in defeat to Bath on the final day of the Aviva Premiership season.
Lewis Ludlow scored Gloucester's opening try in the 30-50 defeat at Bath on Saturday, part of an impressive performance by the young back row forward. Speaking after the game, he paid tribute to the young Gloucester side who went toe to toe with the Aviva Premiership semi-finalists.
Tongan international forward Sione Kalamafoni returns after injury to take up his usual place in the back row as Gloucester look to finish their season on a high against Bordeaux-Begles at Sixways on Sunday.
Gloucester Rugby is delighted to confirm that 18 year old Mat Protheroe, a product of Hartpury College and one of the brightest young talents in the English game, has signed a senior contract at Kingsholm.