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."
Previewing Friday evening's local derby at Bristol, Interim Head Coach Jonny Bell told the local media that Gloucester's preparations have gone well and that the whole squad is united in trying to finish the season on a high.
Speaking to GRTV this week, Acting Head Coach Jonny Bell spoke of his pleasure in the efforts and intensity in training from the squad after a tricky few weeks. The team were preparing for big games with Bristol and Cardiff in coming weeks.
Willi Heinz was understandably and visibly disappointed when he spoke to GRTV after the 27-30 home defeat to Harlequins, apologising to the home support as the game slipped away after seemingly having the game under control.
Speaking to the local media this week, Scottish centre Matt Scott spoke of the squad's determination to put in a big home performance against Harlequins, with vital points up for grabs in the hunt for a Top Six spot this Saturday (KO 3pm)
Looking ahead to Saturday's Aviva Premiership fixture at home to Harlequins (kick off 3pm), Head Coach Laurie Fisher told the local media that Gloucester will need to be on top of their game in a match which has big implications in terms of top six ambitions.
A big few days for the Gloucester-Hartpury Women side. First came the news that the team will compete in Women's Super Rugby next season, and on Saturday the team will play Worcester Ladies IIs at Kingsholm. Centre Hannah Jones and wing Michelle Ruddock spoke to GRTV this week to reflect on events.
In the aftermath of the Aviva Premiership victory over Bristol, Interim Head Coach Jonny Bell was able to look forward to this weekend's European Rugby Challenge Cup quarter-final against Cardiff Blues (Kingsholm, kick off 8:05pm).
Missing so many starters, and up against a team fighting for their Premiership existence, Gloucester did what had to be done at Ashton Gate on Friday evening battling their way to a 32-14 Aviva Premiership win over Bristol Rugby.