All Black prop joins Gloucester

2013-12-06 13:40
John Afoa (File)

London - English Premiership club Gloucester on Friday announced the signing of New Zealand prop John Afoa on a long-term contract.

The 30-year-old, who has won 36 caps for the All Blacks, will join from Ulster at the end of the season.

"He is an exceptional player and an exceptional character," Gloucester director of rugby Nigel Davies told BBC Radio Gloucestershire.

"It is a very big statement about our future ambition. He is hugely experienced and will add a huge amount of weight in all sort of terms to our pack, as well as bringing his own individual ability."

Afoa has spent two seasons with Ulster, having signed from Auckland Blues in 2011, but says he is ready for a new challenge.

"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," he said.

He added: "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 really exciting backs, so I'll be aiming to add to the tight-five effort and help create a platform for those guys to play their game."

Davies claimed that Afoa had rejected more lucrative offers from France due to his desire to install his family in Gloucester.

"His family played a big part in it all," Davies said.

"One of the problems he's had at Ulster is that his family didn't really settle there and have gone home, so that's put a bit of pressure on him, understandably.

"So that was fundamental in the decision-making process and, if we're being frank, he could have gone to France for more money. It had to be right for him and his family. He feels his family can settle here."

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