FORMER Wallaby hooker Jeremy Paul jetted into Kingsholm today to complete Gloucester's squad for the 2007-08 Guinness Premiership season - and immediately said he was ready to get down to work with his new team-mates.
Paul, capped 72-times by Australia, signed a three-year deal in May to join from the ACT Brumbies and is the final piece in Dean Ryan's jigsaw.
"I am joining a team at the forefront of the Guinness Premiership, who have made a fantastic start to the season and it is my job to force my way into the squad," Paul told www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk
"We have the makings of a very good side - the squad strength is unbelievable - and to have the opportunity to play for Gloucester, one of the very best English teams, was just too good to turn down.
"It has been a long time coming but this is a new chapter and a new opportunity in my life and I am thrilled to finally be here. It is up to me to put pressure on the players already in my position because there are two international-quality hookers at the club.
"All I want to do is play my part, add my experience to the squad and help us progress. I still have plenty of ambitions to fulfil - I am hungry for success and I desperately want to be successful in the Guinness Premiership and the Heineken Cup."
In his career to date Paul has won most of the game's major honours including the 1999 World Cup and two Tri-Nations titles with Australia, plus two Super 12 titles with the Brumbies. In 2005, Paul received the highest individual award in the Australian game when he was awarded the John Eales medal, voted for by his fellow internationals.
Paul, 29, was born in New Zealand but moved to Brisbane as a teenager where he began his career with Easts Rugby Club. After starring for the Australian Under 21's in 1997, Paul joined the ACT Brumbies in 1998, making his Super 12 debut against the Cats and Test debut against Scotland in the same year.
"Now I am here, I just cannot wait to get started," he added. "I have already been to the stadium and seen the new stand development - it is massively impressive - and now I just want the chance to play in front of the Gloucester supporters."
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 meet the Exeter Chiefs for the fourth time in competitive action this weekend, this time in the semi-final of the European Rugby Challenge Cup. Director of Rugby David Humphreys told the local media this week that this is the sort of game that Gloucester want to be involved in on a regular basis and that he and his team are looking forward to it.
Following the 29-26 loss to Harlequins, club captain Billy Twelvetrees spoke of his disappointment that the Cherry and Whites were unable to cash in on the home side's indiscipline and lose a lead on Saturday afternoon.
Number eight Gareth Evans admitted to a collective feeling of frustration as Gloucester lost narrowly at Harlequins on Saturday, but insisted that there are plenty of positives to draw upon ahead of next Saturday's European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final at home to Exeter.
Gloucester travel to the Stoop on Saturday afternoon to take on Harlequins in the Aviva Premiership. The Cherry and Whites make just two changes from last weekend's win over Connacht as they seek consistency and continuity in their play as Nick Walshe told the local media this week.
Supporters who are still to purchase tickets for Saturday's European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final at home to Exeter Chiefs at Kingsholm (kick off 7:45pm) are reminded that Early Bird prices are only valid until 6:30pm on Thursday evening.
The Gloucester Wheelchair Rugby team travelled to Fenton Manor Complex, Stoke on Trent last Saturday to take part in the final round of the GBWR Super Series of the season, knowing just one win would be enough to crown them Division 3 Champions.