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Wales sign up Stridgeon

Wales have appointed Toulon's Paul Stridgeon as their new head of physical performance.

Stridgeon, a former freestyle wrestler who represented England at the 2002 Commonwealth Games, linked up with Warren Gatland's squad on Monday as Wales' Rugby World Cup preparations started with initial conditioning training.

The 34-year-old will oversee the Welsh Rugby Union's physical performance department on a tournament-by-tournament basis and combine that role with his head of strength and conditioning position at European champions Toulon.

Stridgeon joined Toulon last summer after six years as national fitness coach with the England rugby team.

"It is fantastic to link up with Wales and return to the international game in what is a very exciting year," said Stridgeon, who toured South Africa as the British and Irish Lions fitness coach in 2009.

"I worked alongside many of the (Wales) coaches and players with the Lions, so have a good understanding of the environment."

Wales are preparing ahead of gruelling pre-World Cup training camps in Switzerland and Qatar and Gatland said: "Paul is one of the best sports strength and conditioners around and his success in previous roles speaks for itself.

"I have been looking to bring Paul in for a number of years and his dedication, skill and expertise will be a huge benefit to us."

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