Sale Sharks have signalled their intent for next season by making a triple swoop ahead of this Saturday’s final Aviva Premiership game at home to Wasps.
Several weeks of careful negotiations have paid off for Sharks director of rugby Steve Diamond with confirmation that powerful forwards Michael Paterson, Kirill Kulemin and Charlie Walker-Blair will all be arriving next month to bolster the Sharks squad.
The capture of number eight Paterson from Welsh giants Cardiff Blues is a real coup for Sale.
The 27-year-old Kiwi born star is Cardiff's current player of the year and the Blues were keen to keep hold of him, with Paterson who will become eligible to play for Wales this summer, having offered him a three year contract.
Kulemin, 32, meanwhile becomes the second player to swap relegated London Welsh for Sale Sharks in the wake of Tom Arscott’s capture last month.
Diamond knows all about the giant lock’s formidable ability having worked with him when he was in charge of the Russian national side.
In the case of flanker Walker-Blair, it’s a case of better late than never with Sale having been close to signing the 24-year-old from Exeter when Diamond first returned to take charge of the Sharks two years ago.
“All three are very important signings for us,” said Steve Diamond.
“Michael has been outstanding for Cardiff and has been one of their key players over the past few seasons. Cardiff were very keen to retain him and he will be a really key addition to our pack next season. Though Michael has played at number eight predominantly this season for Cardiff, going forward I see him more as a lock for us.
“In terms of Kiril I know him very well from working with him with the Russian national side.
“He has played very well for London Welsh this season and has a huge physical presence. He also has massive experience from his time with Castres. He played very well against us too earlier this season.”
“As for Charlie, he is someone that we have had our eyes on for quite a while now.
“He was out for a year with a knee injury but has totally recovered from that and has been playing really well with Jersey.
“He's a really talented number six and is a really big, imposing lad and he will also add a lot to our pack.”
Speaking about his move to Sale Sharks Michael Paterson said, “I am very excited to be joining the Sale Sharks. My Grandfather was born in England and I am English qualified, so playing in the Premiership has always been an ambition of mine. Having met with the coaches, I am excited about the prospect of joining the side next year and look forward to doing my upmost to see the team competing in the Heineken Cup the following season. I would like to thank everyone at the Cardiff Blues, especially Peter Thomas for the last three years, but the time seemed right for a new challenge and I look forward to moving in the summer’.