GLOUCESTER have completed their latest round of recruitment with a surprise – by handing London Wasps second-row Tom Palmer a belated birthday present.
The former England lock, who turned 35 yesterday is the fifth and final player that has put pen to paper this week and brings an abundance of experience.
He will take Will James’ spot in the Cherry and Whites’ squad and Nigel Davies is confidence the 6ft 7ins, 18-stone plus giant will become a tower of strength at Kingsholm.
Davies said: “Tom played for England just over a year ago, he’s a quality player with a proven track record.
“He brings a lot of experience, he’s English qualified which is important and he should be available for the bulk of the season.
“He also has experience of winning at club level which is important. Tom is still very ambitious.
“As I’ve said all along, part of this recruitment process has been about me meeting the players to judge their state of mind in terms of their ambition.
“Having sat down with Tom, he is very eager to continue to be successful and he thinks coming into this Gloucester squad will allow him to do that next year.
“He’s a good ball player, he reads the game well and is extremely powerful .
“He brings a lot with him and will be available all year.
“We’ve looked far and wide for what we needed to recruit in the second-row and feel at this time Tom is an excellent choice.”
Palmer, who is currently in his second spell at Wasps previously enjoyed stints at Leeds Carnegie and Stade Francais.
He was plagued by a chronic calf injury last season but has made 17 appearances for the Wycombe-based outfit this campaign.
At 35-years-old, there could be some concerns over Palmer’s longevity at Kingsholm but the 37-cap former international passed a medical with flying colours and Davies has no concerns.
He said: “He had a bit of a difficult season with injuries last year and didn’t play very much.
“But he’s fresh and has started to play again for Wasps.
“He’s very keen to play at the top level and contribute, he has a lot of experience to the group and is very fresh faced.
“He’s fit, he’s had a full medical and the boys are very pleased with his general condition.”
Palmer is the ninth new signing as Davies rebuilds his squad following a disappointing season.
“He will compete with Elliott Stooke, James Hudson and fellow new-boy Mariano Galarza for a starting spot.
And Davies admits the former England man took little persuasion to sign on the dotted line.
Davies added: “He’ll be a great addition to the squad that we’re currently putting together.
“It adds real strength in depth to that area of the squad. We will have a lot of options, people like Sav (Tom Savage) can go up there and we will need them.
“He will also really add to the dynamic of the group. We’ve already made a considerable signings in the front-five and one or two real quality additions will have a significant accumulative effect.
“It’s never difficult when you speak to players from outside the club in terms of what Kingsholm stands for, the crowd, the environment and the passion.
“It’s never a tough sell and he’s genuinely excited, as are the other signings, to come and play for Gloucester in front of the Shed.”