Aviva Premiership: Richard Hibbard ready for Gloucester debut
Last Updated: 29/08/14 3:38pm
Richard Hibbard feels his move to Gloucester will give a chance to test himself in the best league in the world.
The British and Irish Lions and Welsh international hooker has completed a move to Kingsholm after 10 years with the Ospreys and forms part of a new wave of signings at the west country club.
Joining Hibbard in the arrivals hall are established names like his fellow Wales international James Hook, Scotland half-back Greig Laidlaw, former New Zealand All Blacks prop John Afoa and ex-England lock Tom Palmer.
Gloucester will hope for a significant improvement on last term’s ninth-place finish, which saw rugby director Nigel Davies replaced with David Humphries, and Laurie Fisher brought in as head coach.
Hibbard will be an integral part of Wales' World Cup campaign next year, and hopes to prepare himself in a league in which he feels the playing intensity is second to none.
"I have played against Gloucester enough to know what the crowds are like and the passion there is at the club, and it is something I fancied," said the 30-year-old.
"You look at the Premiership, and the semi-finals and the final last season, and there is that intensity about it.
"I think it is the best league in the world at the moment, and I just wanted to see if I could perform in this league. It was almost a challenge to myself.
"I don't want to let anyone down. We have got some great signings coming in, and big things will be expected. I don't want to under-perform and let expectations down.
"You can see the intensity in the Premiership is that much higher. Paul James (Bath prop) would come into the Wales camp and tell me I would never survive."
Hibbard underwent shoulder surgery almost six months ago, and he sat out Wales' two-Test summer tour of South Africa, but he is confident the a full pre-season's training will stand him in good stead when the season starts.
"I finally got my shoulder fixed, and although it has been tough, it has been good to have a full pre-season," he added.
"It will take me a few games to get back to match fitness and match awareness, but I want to take up from where I left off. It is going to be a constant intensity every week.
"Every place is a hard place to go in this league. All the packs are huge, but I am so looking forward to it. Challenges don't get much bigger."