Gloucester Rugby have boosted their midfield ranks for the 2009-10 season with the signing of Samoan international Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu.
Fuimaono-Sapolu has spent the past three and a half seasons at Bath Rugby. He originally arrived at the Rec in January 2006 on a short term deal but quickly impressed and was offered a longer term contract.
Eliota, 29 in October, is a qualified solicitor and represented New Zealand Universities whilst studying in Auckland. He made his international debut against Scotland in 2005 and caught the eye with exceptional performances against England and Argentina.
He usually plays at outside centre but can also play as a fly-half and started all Samoa's matches in the 2007 Rugby World Cup in the number ten shirt including a Man of the Match performance against the USA.
Eliota is a very skilful player with ball in hand, but also has a robust edge to his game and will bring some physicality to the Gloucester midfield according to Head Coach Dean Ryan:
"Eliota is going to be a valuable addition to the Gloucester Rugby squad. He is an international class centre with valuable experience of playing in the Guinness Premiership."
"We've been looking to increase our physicality across the team and Eliota will bring that to the side. But, he's also possesses good speed and has quick hands so brings other things to the table."
Eliota revealed that he is looking forward to playing in front of the Gloucester crowd at Kingsholm:
"I've played at Kingsholm as a visiting player and it's a great atmosphere. I'm really looking forward to playing in front of that support every other week."
"I've enjoyed my time at Bath but it's a fantastic set up at Gloucester and I can't wait for the new season to start."
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.
Speaking to GRTV after the final whistle, Tom Palmer praised the Cherry and Whites concentration and desire to hold on to a narrow 14-7 victory. The second row topped the tackle charts with 19 as he led the home team's resistance.
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.