Newcastle Falcons have added USA international Todd Clever to their playing squad ahead of the 2014/15 season.
One of the most recognisable faces in USA rugby and a former captain of his national side Clever, 32, has received 63 international caps to date and remains the country’s third highest try scorer of all time.
Clever, previously voted 2000 – 2009 American Player of the Decade, has featured in three Rugby World Cups and also made 24 appearances for the USA Sevens side.
The 6’4” Flanker began his professional rugby career in 2006 with New Zealand side North Harbour, before moving to South African side the Lions, where he became the first American ever to score in the Super 14.
In 2010 Clever moved to Japan, playing first for Suntory Sungoliath and later for NTT Shining Arcs, where he spent three years before returning to his native San Diego earlier this year.
Speaking of the signing, Falcons Director of Rugby Dean Richards said:
"We’re delighted to have added a player of Todd’s calibre to our squad. He is a physical defender and a powerful attacker with proven experience on rugby’s biggest stage and we look forward to seeing him in action for the Falcons.
"As a club we have great ambitions for the coming years and believe that Todd has a part to play in achieving those ambitions both on and off the field."
Speaking on his first day in the North East Clever said: "The club is expecting big things in the next few years and I’m looking forward to it. It’s good to be in the situation as a new player coming in where people expect big things.
"It’s going to be a really exciting time for the Falcons and I’m thrilled to join. I hope I can go good on the field and off it too, help the team atmosphere and hopefully help the Falcons family to grow."
Having plied his trade around the world, the move to the Falcons represents Clever’s debut in European rugby.
"In the past I’ve had opportunities to come to Europe but because of where I was in life it didn’t seem to be the right place for me. But now I’m really hungry for it and really excited, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to play here."
Clever’s arrival in the North East will see him join up with countryman Eric Fry as well as former Shining Arcs team mate Alesana Tuilagi.