Bedford Blues have snapped up New Zealand hooker Nathan Vella on a short term deal following the ankle injury suffered by Sam James last week.
New signing James fractured his ankle while preparing for the game against Bristol last weekend and is facing several weeks on the side lines.
Vella will be a familiar name to the Championship, having previously helped London Welsh gain promotion to the Premiership in the 2013/14 season before representing the Exiles last season.
The 25-year-old broke into Auckland’s ITM Cup squad in 2011, and the following year helped them go on to reach the final. He followed that up by being part of the side that made the semi-finals the following season and was capped 14 times by Auckland in the ITM Cup, scoring one try.
Described as being dynamic around the park, Vella is 6ft 1in tall, weighs in at 105kg, can also play at blindside flanker and is an English Qualified Player through his grandfather.
Speaking about the signing, Blues Director of Rugby Mike Rayer said: “We are really pleased to be able to add someone of Nathan’s pedigree to the squad following the unfortunate injury suffered by Sam.
“We saw a couple of years ago what an impact he can have on a game and he was a driving force in helping London Welsh bounce back to the Premiership.
“It’s great to be able to have a quality player coming in to give us some extra cover at hooker and keeping the pressure on Charlie Clare who had an excellent game against Bristol and will want to make the number two shirt his own this season.
“Nathan is flying in from New Zealand on Thursday and will join up with his new team-mates this week but won’t be in contention for a place in Saturday’s squad.”
In other injury news, scrum half Pete White has been ruled out for three weeks after fracturing his finger during the game against Bristol. Justin Blanchet also picked up a knock during the game and is awaiting the results of a scan on his wrist. It has also been confirmed that Joel Conlon, who was injured during the pre-season game against Scarlets, will be out for two months.
But there was better news with dual registered scrum half Henry Taylor being passed fit while Phil Boulton is recovering well from severe leg bruising and will be back in training next week along with centre Tom Griffiths and prop Alex Lundberg.
Rayer added: “It’s never great to start the season with a mini injury crisis, but the medical team are doing a great job in getting players back into training as quickly as they can. We’re no different to any other club, we just have to manage it and get on with it.”
There is still time to buy your discounted ticket for Bedford’s game against Moseley this weekend from www.theclubshop.co.uk/bedfordblues.
As well as a feast of top class rugby, there will be plenty of activities for the younger generation, with plans in place for a family fun day, while the adults can enjoy live music in the marquee post-match and a pint of the new guest ale ‘Try Time’ only available in the Eagle Bar.