Former New Zealand All Blacks prop John Afoa is in talks with Bristol which, if successful, will see him leave Aviva Premiership neighbours Gloucester and make the short trip down the motorway to join head coach Pat Lam’s squad for next season.
The 34-year-old made the first of his 36 appearances for New Zealand against Ireland in 2005 during their famous Grand Slam tour of the home Unions, a feat that he would repeat in 2008, but his Test career ended after the 2011 World Cup.
The Cherry and Whites have already lost hooker Richard Hibbard, 34, who has agreed on a three-year deal to follow his Gloucester teammate Ross Moriarty, the Wales international flanker, to join the Newport-based Dragons next season.
When asked if Afoa would leave, Gloucester head coach Johan Ackermann said: “There’s a big possibility, he’s busy talking to Bristol and Bristol are talking with him. We’re obviously aware of that and we’ll see how that goes.”
In 2011, Afoa joined Ulster from Auckland but then moved to Gloucester in 2014 on a deal reported at the time to be worth around £400,000 a year, making him one of the highest-paid players in the Premiership.
Bristol had also been linked with Scotland international lock Jonny Gray but the 23-year-old, who has 38 caps for his country, has agreed on a new two-year deal to stay with Guinness PRO14 side Glasgow Warriors.