CARLOS SPENCER, the former All Blacks stand-off, has joined Gloucester on a 17-month contract.
Gloucester's head coach Dean Ryan has secured the services of the vastly experienced and supremely gifted play-maker after he was released by mutual consent from Northampton last week.
"It's a great coup for us," Ryan said. "Understandably given his quality, experience and availability, there were a number of clubs keen to sign him and I am delighted we have got there first.
"Carlos will give us something a little bit different - a mystique and an ability to function at the highest possible level.
"He has huge international experience with the All Blacks and we believe he will be a great asset should we progress into the knockout stages of competitions later in the season. I am delighted that such an outstanding professional has agreed to join us."
Spencer (33) joined the Saints in 2005 in one of the highest profile signings the Guinness Premiership has ever seen. In 102 appearances, he scored 235 points for the club.
He made his All Blacks debut in 1995 and up to 2004 made 34 appearances, scoring 291 points. Spencer also represented Auckland from 1993 until 2004 and in 2006 was named in the Guinness Premiership Dream Team.
Spencer told www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk "I left Northampton with a ton of great memories - the club were fantastic and the supporters always treated me in a way I will never forget.
"Everything has happened pretty quickly over the last few days but the opportunity to stay in the Guinness Premiership and join a club as talented and ambitious as Gloucester is a rare one so I am thrilled.
"Gloucester have been at the forefront of the game in England for a number of years but the excitement of the challenge is driven by trying to help them take that last extra step and become winners.
"That is what excites me - I am joining a club that is genuinely challenging for the top honours around and I want to give it everything I can to help make them even more successful. They are a great team, with strong competition for places and I hope that I can play my way in and contribute fully to the end of the season push for honours"
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.