The meteoric rise of Coventry's Shaun Perry continued yesterday when the England Counties scrum-half revealed he has agreed to join Premiership-bound Bristol at the end of the season.

Perry, who has played for the Butts Park Arena side for the last two years, will see out his current contract before moving to join Richard Hill's Shoguns, who won the National One title last Saturday.

The announcement ends weeks of speculation about the 26-year-old's future after he had attracted the attention of several top-flight sides and was watched in Coventry's loss at Otley by Gloucester's director of rugby, Nigel Melville.

The move to the Memorial Stadium on a two-year deal completes a remarkable ascent into the big time for a player who seemed destined to languish in the nether regions of the National Leagues with Dudley Kingswinford.

He remained at Heathbrook until the summer of 2003 and originally struggled to break into Coventry's first team but, having played most of this season in which Cov have become one of the most exciting sides in the division, his stock has risen accordingly.

"I am absolutely delighted," said Perry. "I really wanted to go full-time.

"I am a bit upset about leaving Coventry because I have enjoyed it here, but you do not get many opportunities like this in life and you have to take them."

Perry's dynamic on-pitch persona suggests he is trying to make up for lost time and he is aware how far he has come in a relatively short space of time.

"It is a bit of a change, going from National Three to the Premiership. I would not have believed it two years ago, if you had said that it was going to happen, but I have been putting the time and effort in and have been playing well, especially in the last half of the season.

"Recently, I have had the opportunities to play firstteam rugby, having had to prove myself from the bench and I am pleased with the way I have come on.

"I have changed a lot as a player since I was with DK. No disrespect to anyone there but if you play with better players and train with top coaches, you are going to improve."

Even though the step up to the Premiership is the biggest a player can take, he is confident he can make it.

"I go there thinking I am going to be the starter. You can't go to a new club happy to sit on the bench or be No 2, no-one wants that," he said.

"I will go down there and work on my fitness, which does need improving; as far as my skills are concerned, I think they just need some fine-tuning."

The man to knock the edges off Perry's game is Hill. Bristol's director of rugby and former England scrum-half is rated by Shoguns director David Powell as one of the best inside-half coaches in the world.

"Richard Hill thinks Shaun is the best young scrum-half around and he should now," said Powell.

"We are very, very pleased we have got him, especially since there were a couple of Premiership sides interested in him.

"He had a great game against us and, but for a brave decision by the referee, he would have scored two tries," he said in reference to a decision to reverse Perry's second score for not taking a free-kick from the right place.

"I was behind the posts with Richard during that game and he was raving about his performance. We already have a couple of scrum-halves; with Shaun, that takes us to three and that will be enough for the Premiership."

Perry, who has started 19 of Cov's 24 National One games this season, has just two matches left with his current employers, away to Sedgley Park and at home to Bedford on the last day of the campaign.