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."
As Gloucester prepare for their 39th game of the season, against Bordeaux-Begles at Sixways on Sunday, David Humphreys told the local media that this week has been all about getting the players mentally and physically ready after a tough game against Connacht last Sunday.
Speaking to GRTV after the 40-32 victory over Connacht on Sunday, skipper Billy Twelvetrees explained that Gloucester had had to learn to be patient and cut out the errors to earn the win and progress to next weekend's final play-off against Bordeaux-Begles.
Jonny May's superb late score capped a thrilling 40-32 European play-off win over Connacht on Sunday. The winger spoke afterwards of his team's character and spirit as he looked ahead to one more week of rugby.
Speaking to GRTV this afternoon, Director of Rugby David Humphreys hailed the 'never say die' attitude of the team, after despite not being at their best, fighting back to take a 40-32 win after extra time over Connacht.
Jonny May continues on the wing on Sunday as Connacht come to town, and the England wing explains to the local media this week that he is delighted with his form and is looking forward to taking on Pat Lam's men.
Following the recent announcement that XBlades were to become the club's new kit and leisurewear partner, Gloucester Rugby can today (Tuesday 30 June) confirm the opening of a new retail unit, based at Gloucester Quays Outlet Centre, as well as the launch of a brand new online shop.