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."
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.
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.