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Wales scrum-half Dwayne Peel poised to join Bristol Rugby

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: January 07, 2014

Sale and Wales scrum-half Dwayne Peel, left, is set to join Bristol for next season

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Bristol could complete a deal to sign Dwayne Peel as early as today – a move that will signal the club's intent and may spark a flurry of new arrivals.

The scrum-half, who won 76 caps for Wales and three for the British & Irish Lions, has spent six years with Sale but will join Bristol this summer.

It is understood the 32-year-old will move to Ashton Gate regardless of whether Bristol are playing Aviva Premiership or GKIPA Championship rugby next season.

The signing of Peel will be the biggest coup since Andy Robinson arrived at Bristol as director of rugby last March – and could swiftly be followed by a move for Bath's Samoan prop, Anthony Perenise.

The 31-year-old tighthead, who has 15 caps for his country, has played in 11 of Bath's 12 Premiership matches this season – including a start in Sunday's dramatic 27-27 draw at Leicester.

If Perenise can be convinced to move down the A4 – and the signs are positive – he and Peel will seemingly not be the last players to join Bristol ahead of next season.

Owner Steve Lansdown and chairman Chris Booy are understood to be willing to sanction a series of high-profile signings as they seek to re-establish Bristol as a major force. As a result, Robinson has been encouraged to pursue his top targets – including a number of current internationals.

With Bristol facing Aberavon in the British & Irish Cup this weekend, academy coach Matt Sherratt faced the media yesterday, and said it was "the nature of the sport" that Bristol would be recruiting quality players ahead of next season.

"It's that time of year where there's a lot of talk in the press, and new players come in and players go out," said Sherratt.

"We're an ambitious club – and, as all ambitious clubs do, they look to bring in quality. That's the nature of the sport and I'm sure there will be new players coming in at some stage – that's professional rugby."

It remains to be seen how the four scrum-halves currently on Bristol's books – Ruki Tipuna, James Grindal, Luke Baldwin and Callum Braley – will be affected by Peel's arrival.

But Braley, as a key member of England's world champion under-20 side last summer and one of the most highly-rated young No 9s in the country, will not be short of top-flight suitors.

The potential influx of top new signings suggests a bright future for Bristol – but the flip-side is a concerning time for those already with the club, as the rumours fly around.

Back-rower Iain Grieve, who has appeared in only half of Bristol's 16 games this season – and only four of 12 in the Championship – was asked whether the talk of new signings affected those currently in the squad.

He said: "It can affect the players, in terms of what they hear. There are always going to be rumours here and there, and in rugby, you hear rumours left, right and centre.

"As a squad, we've got to come tight together. There's nothing we can do about it, because that's all for next year or whenever. We've got to focus purely on our goal for this season, which is to get promotion.

"That's what we want to achieve, so all we can do is keep doing what we do and focus on ourselves. Whatever happens off the field, happens off the field."

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