FORMER England fly half Olly Barkley says he can’t wait to get stuck in after joining London Welsh.
The 32-year-old stand-off is the first of several signings the Exiles are set to unveil having secured promotion back to the Aviva Premiership last week.
Barkley, who joins Oxford-based Welsh after a four-month spell with the Scarlets, has won 23 caps for his country and was a World Cup runner-up in 2007.
He said: “I’m really looking forward to being part of what looks to be a great coaching team and a talented group of players.
“There looks to be a spirit amongst the group that I can’t wait to be involved with and I’m looking forward to the challenge of the Premiership with them all, and helping the club further establish itself at the Kassam Stadium and in Oxford.”
Barkley’s signing came as Welsh announced their Premiership home games would be at 2.30pm on Sundays unless otherwise dictated by television.
The fly half underlined his promise by making his England debut against USA in June 2001 aged 19 – before he had played a first-team game for Bath.
Barkley added on Twitter: “Can finally say I’ll be staying with my Welsh roots next year and signing for @LondonWelshRFC Can’t wait to get back to @premrugby and take on the challenge with what looks to be a team with talent and huge spirit. See you all soon!”
Greene King IPA Championship winners Welsh believe Barkley’s signing shows their intention to be “very competitive” in the top flight.
Head coach Justin Burnell said: “Olly has a wealth of experience, both at club and international level, and he’s exactly the type of player we’re looking for.
“He’s got a fantastic game understanding and his other biggest strong point is his accuracy with the ball.
“His goal kicking is phenomenal and we’ll need that in the Aviva Premiership.”
As well as scoring 1,588 points in 181 Premiership appearances, Barkley has racked up 737 points in 79 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup matches.
The Exiles will learn today who their opponents will be in next season’s European Challenge Cup, while their 2014-15 season ticket launch is on Thursday at 9am.
- Prisons' shake-up will be at heart of today's Queen's Speech
- Five things you need to know in Oxfordshire today
- TV Wildlife presenter Chris Packham speaks about his Aspergers, teenage struggles and attempts to get into Oxford University
- GALLERY: Prince William proves a hit with young and old students on Oxford visit
- Elections 2016 roundup: Everything you need to know for May 5
- Authorities search for solutions as graffiti in Oxford doubles in a year
- Tackling cyber-crime and fraud are main priorities for Conservative police commissioner candidate
- Prime Minister says he has no offshore funds following Panama Papers leak
- Traders called on to support this summer's Cowley Road Carnival
- Tributes paid in Witney to former butcher and much-loved member of community
- Successful education scheme from Oxford charity to be rolled out across the UK
- Stunt actor from Oxford meets his match on Take Me Out
- 11 years on, pupils jump for joy over installation of crossing
- Barton gets £4m cash boost to transform estate’s homes and shops
- Michael Appleton to hold 'honest conversations' with Oxford United's four goalkeepers
- Oxford United to cover fewer miles in League One next season
- FOOTBALL: New manager John Brough had 'long admired' North Leigh
- FOOTBALL: Manager Enrique Guillen salutes Oxford City Lions after FA Futsal Cup triumph
- FOOTBALL: Banbury United captain Andy Gunn takes top honour at awards night
- FOOTBALL: April England fires Oxford City to Southern Region Women's League Cup title
- FOOTBALL: Clanfield 85 Youth crowned champions
- GOLF: Frilford go top despite falling to reigning champions Burford
- DARTS: Stephen Wilkes's classy finish spurs Peachcroft
- Oxford United's Kemar Roofe and Liam Sercombe named in League Two team of the year