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."
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.