The Scarlets have confirmed that they have signed back row forward Gavin Quinnell from Italian club Viadana on a two-year contract with the region.
Quinnell, 26, who returns home after a four-year absence from Welsh rugby said while “it’s great to be back home”, he wants to make his own mark within the current Scarlets squad at an important time in his rugby career and in the region’s history.
Quinnell debuted for the Scarlets in 2001 and has 23 caps for the region – leaving Llanelli to join Worcester Warriors in 2006, where he was a firm favourite with supporters, scoring nine tries in 20 appearances in his first season with the English club. He then moved onto two seasons with Italian Super 10 club Viadana.
Quinnell brings an added dimension to the Scarlets pack, with the ability to play at number 8, flanker or lock and has established himself as a powerful impact player during his rugby career. The popular Llanelli giant cuts formidable presence on the field – standing at 6ft 7ins (2.01m) and at 21 stone (138kg) has the power to make a mark on any opposition.
Gavin is part of the famous Quinnell rugby dynasty – the youngest son of Derek Quinnelland brother of Scott and Craig Quinnell, all former Wales internationals.
Quinnell has played once at Parc y Scarlets, for the Barbarians against his former club at the official opening of Parc Y Scarlets in January 2009 at the high-profile, sell-out game in the Scarlets’ new home.
Scarlets Head Coach Nigel Davies said: “It’s great to have him back, Gavin is an established impact player and will bring something different to our forward play, his size and physicality and attitude to rugby is something that we can use and we know he’s a committed Scarlet.
“He’s a big ball carrier, strong and powerful and will be a very physical presence on the pitch which will be good for us next season.
“For the region, it’s good news to see him back in our ranks, he understands what our rugby is all about and knows what it means to pull on the Scarlets shirt and I’m sure our supporters will give him a warm welcome home.
“But equally, he needs to be his own man, make his own mark at this juncture in his career and use the experience he has gained in Italy to maximum impact. We’ll be treating him as an individual and want to create competition for places in this squad and challenge all our players to get the best out of them.”
Gavin Quinnell said: “It’s good to be coming back to Wales and obviously to be back with the Scarlets is a real bonus for me, particularly in this great new stadium and with a region that I feel most at home with and passionate about.
“I followed the Scarlets last season and it’s good to see so many young players coming through well, there’s the makings of a great team there and plenty of really proud, enthusiastic players who want to achieve more. It will be interesting to be part of the new set-up and be part of this squad. I’m just really looking forward to joining them and getting into pre-season training with the team next week.
“I’ve learnt a lot and had some great experience in Italy. It’s been good to be part of a different set-up and culture and Viadana has been a good place for me to be.
“I think I’ve got plenty to offer the Scarlets now, particularly after being out of Welsh rugby a while. My hunger to get back and play here is more than ever before. I’m known for being a physical player and playing rugby hard, but I just want to get better and play to the very best of my ability when I’m given the opportunity, because that shirt means a lot to me and my family.
“For me, the family connection with rugby is just an added motivation – I’m much more experienced now, and I know the weight of expectation from Scarlets fans, who are great supporters and I’m back to prove myself in my own right.”