The Ospreys have moved to strengthen their front row options with the signing of former All Black Campbell Johnstone.
The former Crusaders and Biarritz tight-head has signed until the end of the season providing much needed cover for existing tight-heads Aaron Jarvis, Adam Jones and Joe Rees who are all ruled out with injury.
The 32-year old from Waipukurau arrives in Ospreylia in time for the busiest month of the season. The Ospreys face back-to-back Heineken Cup clashes against European heavyweights Toulouse ahead of big Christmas derby fixtures, before the focus turns back to Europe with the visit of old foes Leicester Tigers to the Liberty and a trip to Treviso.
A product of the Canterbury province, Johnstone played 38 times for Crusaders before signing for Biarritz in 2008. Renowned as a powerful scrummager, Johnstone played 80 games for the French outfit in four years, including 14 appearances in the Heineken Cup. In the 2009/10 season he faced the Ospreys in the nail biting quarter-final clash in San Sebastian where Biarritz won by a solitary point en route to the final against Toulouse.
Capped three times by New Zealand in 2005, against Fiji and the British and Irish Lions (two tests), Johnstone left Biarritz in the summer, returning to New Zealand to play for Tasman in the ITM Cup.
Johnstone's arrival comes just days after the return of Cai Griffiths on loan from London Irish.
Andy Lloyd, Rugby Operations Manager at the region, commented: "The arrival of Campbell and Cai gives us some much needed options at tight-head given the injuries we've suffered and the ongoing commitments we have to the national set-up at senior and age-grade level.
"Campbell will go straight into our ERC squad on his arrival, and although Cai is ineligible for the Heineken Cup having played in the Amlin Cup this season he will have a big part to play in our PRO12 defence, particularly during the Six Nations period when in addition to our senior national commitments we will also lose two tightheads to the U20 squad.
"We remain entirely committed to development from within and don't take any decision to look outside the group for injury cover lightly. However, we have a responsibility to our supporters, management and directors to remain competitive, as well as to our players for their personal welfare. Given the complete lack of any professional experience in our remaining options there is quite simply no way we could go the rest of the season without bringing in additional cover.
"This autumn we have seen seven front five players from this region involved with the senior national squad, a contribution that we are justifiably proud of. However, the reality is that with so many players from one region featuring there can be a heavy price to pay in terms of injuries to the like of Aaron, Richard Hibbard and Alun Wyn Jones as well as the need to provide squad cover, both during the international period and when players return to the region unfit to play."
Porthcawl recently received a WRU facilities grant and funding from Natwest RugbyForce in order to give their changing rooms a facelift. This came after receiving £10,000 in a WRU facilities grant last year to tarmac their car park. The improvements have already helped to make the club more accessible, not only for their own members and players but for the whole community.
The Welsh Rugby Union has launched a new, accredited Safeguarding and Protecting Children course - funded by the WRU and delivered in partnership with Sport Wales and the NSPCC - fo rugby club volunteers around Wales.
The SWALEC semi-final draws threw up some mouth-watering clashes in the Cup, Plate and Bowl as the 12 teams aim for the Millennium Stadium Finals Day. All the semi-finals are to be played on the weekend of April 12.
Welsh whistler Rhys Thomas continues to scale the heights of the game as he prepares to be an official in this weekend's Hong Kong Sevens tournament, undoubtedly the showpiece event on the World Series calendar.
Wales International Ian Evans and Wales and Lions legend Scott Quinnell swapped rugby balls for paint pots at Tonna during the RBS 6 Nations. They surprised club players with a special clubhouse makeover to launch NatWest RugbyForce 2014 - a programme developed in partnership with the WRU to make rugby clubs stronger businesses by improving and renovating their facilities with the support of volunteers and the local community.
Fresh from claiming the Bowl honours in Tokyo last Sunday, the Wales Sevens squad have settled into their routine as they prepare for this weekend's Hong Kong tournament where Iolo Evans is aiming high, as WRU TV's Graeme Gillespie discovers.
The Welsh Rugby Union has recently teamed up with Prostate Cymru to help the charity launch its latest campaign to raise awareness of the disease. Members of the Wales squad helped produce a short video and promotional material for the campaign titled 'The Best Defence - is to know the FACTS'.
A special interview with Matthew Rees on his return to action in this week's Principality Welsh Rugby Union Podcast. We also speak to Scarlet Josh Turnbull, Wales Sevens coach Gareth Williams and Aberavon coach Jason Hyatt.
World Cup Sevens winner Richie Pugh, now coach to the Welsh Women's Sevens side, will lead an Open Sevens Skills session for Senior Women's players age 18 on or before 1 September, 1994 at Parc Eirias, Colwyn Bay on Tuesday, 29 April.
Caernarfon travelled to play their penultimate Cup league encounter with 14 gallant ladies and nearly came up with the goods but injuries and the strengthening wind pegged them back and thwarted any revival with a 31-19 defeat against Pencoed.
It's crunch time for Carmarthen Quins and Llandovery as they chase a Principality Premiership play-off spot. WRU TV's Graeme Gillespie chats to Quins Steff Thomas and Drovers' Chris Knight along with Bridgend's coach Ben Rose in this weeks edition.