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."
Speaking to GRTV after the 40-29 Aviva A League win over Wasps Rugby, Academy Coach Rich Whiffin explained his pride in the squad to overcome a strong opponent and book their spot in next week's Aviva A League final.
Willi Heinz returned from injury to skipper Gloucester to a famous 16-14 win over Stade Rochelais on Saturday evening. Speaking after the game in France, Heinz admitted the win wasn't pretty but was full of courage and a great result for the club.
Billy Burns contributed all Gloucester's points in the 16-14 European Rugby Challenge Cup win in La Rochelle on Saturday evening, but dedicated the victory to the whole squad whilst also praising the travelling support.
Speaking after Gloucester's brave 16-14 win against Stade Rochelais which clinches a European Rugby Challenge Cup final spot, Director of Rugby David Humphreys paid tribute to the way the team had executed the game plan in a hostile environment against quality opposition.
Greig Laidlaw returns to the Gloucester Rugby squad this week, and his inclusion is an important one after a serious ankle injury. The Scottish scrum half is determined to drive the team forward in their European Rugby Challenge Cup semi final in La Rochelle this Saturday.
Gloucester take on La Rochelle in the European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final in France on Saturday evening, with the Top 14 side the favourites in the eyes of the bookmakers. However, David Humphreys is looking for his side to rise to the occasion against a familiar opponent.
Speaking to GRTV after Saturday's 39-30 Aviva Premiership win over Sale, Mark Atkinson admitted that the performance wasn't perfect but that the team's character shone through in a game that could easily have slipped away.
Scotland scrum-half Greig Laidlaw is targeting a 'unique' finish to his Gloucester tenure in the European Rugby Challenge Cup final at the venue where his professional playing career began, BT Murrayfield Stadium (Friday 12 May).
Gloucester's young United side once again dug deep to take an illustrious scalp, overturning a half-time deficit to earn a 40-29 victory over Wasps and earn a place in the Aviva Premiership A League final.