The Abu Dhabi Harlequins have made a significant statement of intent ahead of the new season by recruiting Jeremy Manning, a full-back who has played English Premiership rugby for the past two years.
The New Zealand-born player parted company with the Newcastle Falcons earlier this summer, after the club were relegated from the top flight of English rugby at the end of last season.
Manning, who had previously played for the Irish giants Munster, with whom he won the Heineken Cup in 2006, has moved to the UAE to take up a position as a fitness instructor.
"I'm looking forward to starting a new chapter in my life and being part of a great rugby club like Abu Dhabi Harlequins is an amazing bonus," Manning said.
"I cant wait to get stuck in and hopefully if some of my experience and words of wisdom can help other players reach their potential and improve their game, then that will make me a happy man."
Quins won the Gulf Top Six and the UAE Cup last season, but lost out to the Dubai Hurricanes in the UAE Premiership.
Since then, Alistair Thompson, their influential captain, has retired, Pete Sampson, the UAE hooker, has switched to city rivals Saracens, while Mike McFarlane, the outstanding centre, will be missing until after Christmas because of injury.
As such, Manning's arrival provides a major boost to their quest to regain their status as the region's leading club.
"Jeremy has settled in at the club really well and has shown remarkable skills and strength in pre-season training," said Chris Davies, the Quins director of rugby.
"I am so pleased that he has decided to join us. It is often difficult to make the move from professional level of the game to amateur level, but he's done it with ease."
Follow us @SprtNationalUAE