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."
After his last ditch try clinched the 42-40 Aviva Premiership victory over Newcastle at Kingsholm on Saturday, Billy Burns told GRTV that all the Gloucester team deserve credit for hanging in there against a Falcons team who really made life tough for the Cherry and Whites.
Speaking ahead of Saturday's Aviva Premiership fixture at home to Newcastle Falcons (kick off 3pm), Director of Rugby David Humphreys emphasised the importance this weekend of Gloucester building on last week's impressive home victory against the Exeter Chiefs.
Speaking to the assembled national and local media, try-scorer Jonny May was delighted and relieved to have tasted victory on Saturday evening, and is looking forward to the European Rugby Challenge Cup final.
Tom Savage delivered a Man of the Match performance against Exeter Chiefs on his birthday on Saturday evening. He spoke to GRTV after the game about the importance of the European Rugby Challenge Cup win.
Speaking to the local media this week, John Afoa described the hard work that the Cherry and White have been putting in and that he is fighting fit ready for Saturday's European Rugby Challenge Cup semi final clash with Exeter Chiefs.
Gloucester Rugby face Exeter Chiefs this Saturday in the European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final, and Charlie Sharples, who starts at full back is relishing the challenge of the big Kingsholm occasion.
Gloucester Rugby return to Aviva Premiership action against the Newcastle Falcons on Saturday (Kingsholm, kick off 3pm), and make several changes to the side that defeated Exeter Chiefs at home last weekend.