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"
Speaking to the local media this week, Richard Hibbard expressed his excitement ahead of the West Country derby and that there is an extra spring in the step of the Cherry and Whites ahead of the tough challenge.
With such a short turnaround between the two games, and Gloucester looking to reintegrate several players into the line-up after the Autumn international series, Tom Savage told GRTV that the Cherry and Whites will keep changes to a minimum for the European Rugby Challenge Cup game in Zebre on Saturday.
Gloucester travel to Italy this weekend to take on Zebre in Round Four of the European Rugby Challenge Cup. The Cherry and Whites defeated the Italian side 35-10 last Sunday, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys is looking for an improved performance in the return fixture.
On a tough evening at Kingsholm, Gloucester could escape neither a suffocating Bath defence, nor the whistle of referee Greg Garner as six penalties and a penalty try paved the way to a 39-16 win for the visitors.
Gloucester Rugby welcome Sione Kalamafoni, Greig Laidlaw and Tom Palmer back to the starting line up and feature David Halaifonua in a matchday squad for the first time, as they resume Aviva Premiership action against Bath Rugby at Kingsholm on Saturday (kick off 5:30pm).