Lions tourist Andy Powell has joined Lions coach Shaun Edwards at London Wasps.
Powell was released by Cardiff Blues yesterday and had been linked with a big-money move to France with Agen and a cross-code switch to the Crusaders.
But the 28-year-old has instead decided to swap Wales for England by agreeing a move to one of Europe’s most-successful clubs.
Powell, who toured South Africa with the Lions last summer, will join fellow Lions Simon Shaw, Phil Vickery, Tim Payne and Joe Worsley at Adams Park, as well as Lions defence guru Edwards who is head coach of the former English and European Champions.
“My decision was a pure rugby decision,” said Powell, who has signed an initial one-year contract with Wasps.
“After all the talk and speculation about where I will be playing, all I want to do now is get my head down, improve as a player and hopefully, if selected, play in the World Cup next year for my country.
“To do that I need to be playing well for my club and I think with the coaching team and setup here at Wasps, I will have the perfect opportunity to do that.
“I know Shaun Edwards well of course from my time with the Welsh team, and I took little persuading once I met with Tony Hanks and Trevor Woodman about how serious this team is about success and winning.
“Wasps have pulled together a great squad, with some great coaches and I think this is an environment in which I will thrive as a player and I hope to do my part to help bring success and trophies to Wasps.”
Powell is Wasps’ final signing of the summer, with the former Leicester, Blues, Newport and Beziers back rower following fellow Lion Ricky Flutey, Nick Berry, Charlie Davies, James Cannon, Richard Haughton, Sakaria Taulefo and Seb Jewell to Acton and High Wycombe.
And while Powell’s ball carrying ability and star quality were hugely attractive to the Wasps coaching staff, director of rugby Tony Hanks admitted that the views of his Lions team-mates played a central role in convincing the club that the Welshman would be a successful signing.
“Andy will be a welcome addition to the squad and is held in high regard by people in the game that we at Wasps trust and respect – none more so than Wasps’ Lions players who played alongside him and forged friendships with him in South Africa in 2009,” said Hanks.
“Andy makes his move from Cardiff based on his desire to drive both his club and international career and whilst his rugby ability is obvious, the Wasps coaching team have all warmed to Andy immediately and are impressed by his drive and enthusiasm to relocate to London and join Wasps.
“Andy is the first high-profile Welsh signing at the club since Rob Howley and we are confident he will benefit from the environment and ‘Wasps way’ in a similar fashion and become a favourite with the Wasps faithful.
“This is a good fit for both Andy and Wasps – we want to give him the platform, on the back of good club performances, to play at the highest level possible and Andy is committed to developing his game and ensuring success for Wasps in 2010/11.”