ALEX Brown has turned second-row scout to help Gloucester solve their lock conundrum.
The 33-year-old was forced into premature retirement in December, after learning shoulder surgery will restrict the range of movement in his left arm.
Brown has taken up a short-term lineout coaching role at Kingsholm, and is hoping to secure a more permanent position with the Cherry and Whites.
And now he is helping rugby director Nigel Davies unearth top-quality potential new second-row recruits.
There is a dearth of frontline second rows out of contract and available for next season – so Brown will now help Gloucester take a lateral view of their options.
Bristol-born Brown is still celebrating his benefit year, marking a stellar decade in Cherry and White.
The former Bristol and Bath lock is now busy trying to aid Gloucester's recruitment process for next term, easing part of the burden on boss Davies.
Several top Premiership clubs employ full-time scouts, but Gloucester have not gone down that route in recent times.
Former Wales centre Davies purposely put a healthy coaching team together, to allow him the time to control Gloucester's recruitment and retention strategy.
But he is not about to turn down this offer of help, so Brown is now researching potential transfer targets.
Gloucester have brought in Tongan powerhouse Lua Lokotui on an 18-month contract, to offset the injury loss of lineout boss Brown.
That is only part of the equation though, as club captain Jim Hamilton will join Montpellier at the end of the season.
So Gloucester need a direct replacement for Hamilton, and may even look for a second lock addition too.
Kingsholm boss Davies had pursued Leicester's England lock Geoff Parling, Gloucester offering the former Newcastle Falcon a competitive contract.
The 29-year-old seriously considered a Kingsholm switch, but in the end chose to extend his stay at Welford Road.
Gloucester will continue with their bid to prise Nick Kennedy away from French giants Toulon.
Leicester had kept tabs on Kennedy, fearing they may lose Parling.
The Tigers will not now follow up that interest, leaving a possible path for Gloucester.
Former London Irish lineout coordinator Kennedy is considering a move back to England as he has struggled to adapt to life in the south of France.
Kennedy realises any return to the UK would lead to a pay cut, with English clubs unable to match the contracts on offer in France.
But Gloucester still have a battle on their hands to convince the 31-year-old that Kingsholm is where his future lies.
The Cherry and Whites have also been tracking Sale's out-of-contract lock Kearnan Myall, and his Sharks team-mate and Scotland lock Richie Gray would be keen on a move to Kingsholm should Sale be relegated.