Richard Hibbard: Wales and Lions hooker to quit Gloucester for Dragons

Richard Hibbard tackles Dragons' Adam Warren in April, 2016
Richard Hibbard tackles Dragons' Adam Warren in April 2016

Wales and British and Irish Lions hooker Richard Hibbard will leave Gloucester at the end of this season to play for Dragons on a three-year deal.

Hibbard, 34, will make the move with a Wales recall as his target, according to Dragons boss Bernard Jackman.

"It's a good thing he's coming back with international ambitions because that's going to make sure he keeps his form," Jackman told BBC Sport Wales.

Hibbard won the last of his 38 Wales caps in August, 2015 against Ireland.

He had been contracted to be with Gloucester until the end of 2018-19, but will move a season early.

In a statement announcing the move Hibbard said: "Finishing my career in Wales is important to me.

"This opportunity has probably come a little sooner than I expected."

Dragons head coach Bernard Jackman
Dragons head coach Bernard Jackman has now recruited two Lions, with George North also set to have talks

Hibbard will join current team-mate Ross Moriarty, the Wales and Lions back-row at Rodney Parade for 2018-19.

Jackman added: "Richard has been very good for Gloucester - players' player of the year last year, fans player of the year the year before - and probably felt that he is still good enough to play for Wales.

"In actual fact I think he probably feels he is a better player now than when he was getting picked.

"But out of sight, out of mind and the move back will have him under the eye of the international selectors."

'I've enjoyed Gloucester so much'

Hibbard has made 91 Gloucester appearances since leaving Ospreys in 2014.

"To have the chance to finish on a high, back home in Wales in front of family and friends is an exciting one," he added.

"It's been an incredibly difficult decision. The reason it's been so tough is that I've become so attached to Gloucester during my time here.

"I've probably played some of my very best rugby in Cherry and White and I've enjoyed it so much."

The Gwent region have already signed Wales internationals Rhodri Williams and Ryan Bevington, plus Jordan Williams from Bristol for next season, along with Rhodri Davies from Rotherham.

Northampton wing George North will hold talks with Dragons coach Bernard Jackman in the new year, meaning Dragons could yet add a third new Lion alongside Hibbard and Moriarty.

"The Dragons have an extremely skilful squad and a few experienced players will add to that," added Hibbard, who played all three Tests as the Lions beat Australia 2-1 in 2013.

"Ross coming in is an exciting addition. He'll galvanise the back-row and hopefully I can bring some experience in as well.

"I spoke to Bernard, who shared his plans for the Dragons and the direction he wants to take the team and I really want to be part of that.

"I'm excited by the move back and what Bernard is building at the Dragons. Contributing to that will be my focus to get the team into a good place.

"Success may not be overnight, but hopefully in any small way that I can help I can speed that process up."

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