Mermoz signs for Newcastle for next season
Newcastle have announced the signing of France centre Maxime Mermoz for next season.
The 30-year-old former Toulouse, Perpignan and Toulon player will join the Aviva Premiership side in the summer at the end of his short term deal at Leicester.
Mermoz, who has 35 Test caps to his name, is a two-time European Cup winner with Toulon and represented France in the 2011 Rugby World Cup final.
Newcastle director of rugby Dean Richards believes Mermoz's signing signals the ambitions of the Kingston Park club.
"Maxime's signing is a major statement of intent for Newcastle Falcons," Richards told the club's official website.
"We have been working hard over a long period of time to make this move happen and we are delighted that a player of such proven calibre is keen to play a key role in the ambitious plans we have for the club.
"The fact that he will spend the back half of this season with Leicester Tigers is ideal in the sense that he will already be accustomed to Aviva Premiership rugby by the time he arrives with us in the summer, and we are excited by what he will bring to the group."
Former Leicester number eight Richards added: "He is a very intelligent centre who runs great lines, he has fantastic handling ability and his understanding of the game is first class.
"It is no coincidence he has won major trophies with every club he has been at, and the fact we have been able to attract a player of his standing in the game says a lot about the regard in which the Falcons are held at the moment."
Mermoz has won the French Top 14 title at Toulouse, Perpignan and twice at Toulon, and said he wanted to join Newcastle after playing alongside arguably the club's most successful former player, World Cup winner Jonny Wilkinson.
"I am really happy to join the Falcons and I have been attracted by the ambitious plans of this historic club, which was the starting point of my former team-mate and legend Jonny Wilkinson," Mermoz said.
"I expect to share my experience and bring my contribution to achieve the ambitious goals of the team. But I also come to learn and experience something new, and to enjoy my passion in an environment and culture deeply different from what I have known in France.
"This is a big challenge, but really exciting and motivating. I love it, I feel grateful and want to pay back the trust shown in me by Newcastle Falcons."