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"
It's the first Gloucester-Bristol derby at Kingsholm in over eight years this Saturday (kick off 4:30pm) and, previewing the game with the local media this week, Defence Coach Jonny Bell stressed that, with both teams in the bottom half of the table, they both need the points.
Speaking to the local media this week, Gloucester front rower John Afoa knows the challenge ahead this week against Bristol, and calls on the Cherry and Whites to make the most of home advantage as a determined squad look to bounce back from a narrow loss to Saracens.
Tom Savage speaks to GRTV and the local media as Gloucester went down by 24-20 at Saracens on Sunday afternoon. The second row was disappointed with the result, despite a strong showing from the hosts.
Speaking immediately after the game, skipper Willi Heinz thought that Gloucester had executed their game plan reasonably well and competed hard against Saracens. However, it wasn't enough but the squad will have plenty to work on this week ahead of the derby match against Bristol.
Gloucester may be coming off their best win of the season, the 38-16 victory over Wasps last weekend, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys admits that Sunday's trip to Saracens is an even tougher test.
After a series of contract announcements last week, hooker Richard Hibbard is the latest Gloucester Rugby player to commit to a new contract at the club and told GRTV how much he enjoys playing in the Cherry and White of Gloucester.
A try scorer in the 36-18 Aviva Premiership win over Wasps at Kingsholm on Saturday, Charlie Sharples admitted that Gloucester would enjoy the moment but can't get too carried away. The team got what they deserved but the winger wants these performances to be more frequent.
England Head Coach Eddie Jones has made two changes to his side to play Australia in Saturday's final match of the Old Mutual Wealth Series at Twickenham Stadium (kick-off 2.30pm, live on Sky Sports 2). Jonny May lines up on the left wing.