Gloucester sign former All Black prop John Afoa

Gloucester have confirmed that they have signed All Black Rugby World Cup winning
prop John Afoa from Ulster for next season.

A big signing to boost the front five depth at Gloucester, bringing in the
experience of Afoa will add a new dimension and focus on increasing the power
of its forward play at Kingsholm, and marks a notable statement into strengthening
and developing the team’s impact up front.

The new signing follows the announcement that Gloucester has already successfully
retained a number of its key international class players including Sione Kalamafoni,
Rob Cook, Henry Trinder and Billy Twelvetrees for next season.

Director of Rugby Nigel Davies explained the importance of building on his
club’s traditional core values as a forward pack, and ensuring Gloucester Rugby’s
home remained a place opposition teams feared.

Davies said, “This signing, amongst others, signals a statement of intent
in terms of our playing philosophy at Gloucester; strengthening our core values
as a forwards pack, playing our way with a team armed not just with power, but
also the ability to play a rounded and completed game.

“Thanks to the hard work off the field and our loyal support at Gloucester,
we are in a strong position as a club to be able to invest in the right players
to ensure we meet our goals and ambitions going forward.

“As a rugby club we are able to invest significantly in our team thanks
to the backing of our board, the continued financial success of Gloucester Rugby
and the significant investment made by our partners, sponsors and supporters.

“A key signing like John’s is also fuelled by the fantastic commitment
we have from our supporters with attendances at Kingsholm as healthy as ever
this season, and we hope bringing in players of John’s calibre will reward that
loyalty.

“Balancing our squad and building real depth in key areas is something
we have been working hard on behind the scenes on for months, and John’s signing
is a key element in that process.

“He had several good options in France, so we’ve had to work hard to
bring him to Gloucester. It’s a real statement of where we’re hoping to go.

A player of John’s stature can have a massive impact upon a relatively young
pack of forwards and on our rugby environment in general. “It’s clear our
vision, ambition, our culture matched where he wants to be as a world-class
player and, as a club with strong values, that he’s happy to become a part of
with his young family.”

The 30 year old, who has played 36 Tests for New Zealand, has spent the past
two seasons with Ulster, who he joined following the conclusion of Rugby World
Cup 2011.

He enjoyed a fine debut season in Ireland as he helped Ulster reach the Heineken
Cup Final. He was also a key member of the team that reached the Heineken Cup
quarter-final in 2013 and the RaboDirect PRO12 Final in the same year.

He made his Auckland debut at the age of 18, and represented New Zealand at
U16 and U21 levels before earning his first cap for the All Blacks against Ireland
in November 2005.

John Afoa said he was delighted to have signed for Gloucester Rugby, “It’s
a very important move for me and for my family, and that was a big factor in
my final decision. I had to consider them as well as the rugby side of things,
and Gloucester was the right fit on all those fronts.

“Gloucester have got a good team in place already, but are now looking
to try and take things up a level and that’s a really exciting prospect, similar
to the challenge that I took on when I came to Ulster a couple of years ago.

“I’ve heard that the Gloucester fans appreciate their forward play, and
I’m looking forward to that. I know that they already possess some reall

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