Family persuades John Afoa to join Gloucester
December 6, 2013
As widely predicted, former All Black prop John Afoa has agreed to move to Gloucester at the end of the season after three years with Ulster. He had no shortage of offers from New Zealand and France as well as England.
Afoa's family were unable to settle in Northern Ireland, returning to New Zealand last year, and the front-rower had been expected to return to his native Auckland next summer to fight for a place in Steven Hansen's All Blacks squad. But Gloucester's rugby director Davies revealed Afoa will aim to reunite with his wife and two children at Kingsholm next season instead.
"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. John sees Gloucester in a similar position to where Ulster were a few years ago.
"Ulster have had a big investment programme over the last three to four years, recruiting real quality players, and that's impacted on their performances. He can see parallels with the potential there was at Ulster as there is now at Gloucester.
"He wants to bring his family across from New Zealand and he can see them settling for the next few years in Gloucestershire."
Davies went on to say the signing was "a statement of intent" adding: "It signifies a clear change in direction in terms of strategy for the team. The side has gone a particular way for the last four or five years in terms of recruitment and the rugby it wants to play.
"And I think what's been evident is that particularly in the Aviva Premiership, your ability to compete up front is your most important facet really. We just need to bring that steely forward pack edge back to Kingsholm, which is what we've traditionally been known for.
"I think Kingsholm lends itself particularly well to a forward pack dominant on the front foot, and that's what we need to get back to. This is part of that process.
"We've got a reasonably young pack of forwards, so to bring some front-five players in of this experience and quality will add to what they currently are as well as what they do as individuals too."
It is reported that Afoa will become one of the highest-paid players with his salary belived to be in the region of £400,000 a season.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies
Tom Hamilton runs the rule over just where the six countries stand ahead of the global gathering in September