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.
- Oxfordshire detective is a contestant on Channel 4 survival show The Island with Bear Grylls
- Managing director Greig Box Turnbull to leave Oxford United at end of season
- Companies still signing up for jobs fair at Oxford Town Hall
- Hundreds will gather as soldier killed in Iraq is repatriated
- Staff and students celebrate actress's big win at the Golden Globes
- Inquests opened into death of couple who died in cottage fire on Blenheim Palace estate
- Inquest opened into death of pensioner found in River Ock in Abingdon
- Man wearing beanie hat exposes himself to woman on city street
- Chain running Randolph Hotel in Oxford in 'best shape ever' after announcing £55m profit
- Cyclist and car involved in collision outside Seacourt Tower
- Oxford United vow to act quickly to resolve flag-waving dispute
- UPDATE: Three more men arrested in connection with attempted murder after altercation in Banbury
- Oxford United v Swindon Town - UPDATES
- CLARIFICATION: Hygiene report of Delight 2 in Didcot
- Oxford United in talks to extend contract of skipper John Lundstram beyond next season
- Oxford United out to sign off on a high against Shrewsbury
- BOXING: Jordan Flynn’s offered Olympic trial despite defeat
- MOTORSPORT: Renault driver Jolyon Palmer is against new safety shield
- BASKETBALL: Oxfordshire trio in junior regional side
- ANGLING: Holder Craig Partridge gets off to flying start
- MOTORSPORT: Oxford driver Matt Chapman facing first two-hour endurance test
- SWIMMING: City of Oxford's David Murphy competes against Olympic champion in British final
- Canice Carroll raring for next season already after breaking into Oxford United's side
- Reaction to Shrewsbury Town defeat defined Oxford United's season – Michael Appleton