Worcester Warriors have continued their preparations for next season with the signing of outside back Lee Best from Premiership rivals Bath.
The 27-year-old, who has England Under 21 and A team experience, has signed a three-year contract designed to keep him at Sixways until the summer of 2008.
Mainly a full-back, Best has also played on the wing during his time at The Rec and has considerable big-match experience, having been involved in Bath's charge to the semi-finals of this season's Heineken Cup. He has played in the Premiership for seven years, making more than 100 appearances in the league and all cup competitions.
Worcester tried to sign the player when they entered the Premiership in 2004. Since then, Worcester have changed their backs coach, but remain admirers of the strong-running three-quarter. Warriors coach Anthony Eddy said: "Lee is a quality player and we are delighted to have him with us. His great attacking skills and versatility will certainly add value to our team."
For his part, Best voiced his excitement at making the journey up the M5, saying: "I am thrilled to be joining Worcester. I was in talks with the club a couple of years ago and I am pleased to have been given another chance to sign for such a forward-thinking side.
"It's an up-and-coming club with lots of ambition and that has been displayed in their new signings already this year," he said, in reference to the recruitment of British Lion front-row forward Darren Morris, hooker Ben Gotting and scrum-half Ryan Powell. n Leeds Tykes have "reluctantly agreed" to Justin Marshall's request to leave the club following their relegation from the Guinness Premiership.
The former New Zealand captain, who joined at the start of this year's Premiership campaign, made clear his intention to leave the club shortly after their relegation was confirmed last Sunday.
Following a meeting with chief executive Gary Hetherington, when the scrum-half expressed his desire to continue playing rugby at the highest level, the Tykes placed the 32-year-old on the transfer list. Promoted Harlequins are among the favourites to sign Marshall while French outfit Bourgoin have also shown an interest and it is also possible he could return to play Super 14 rugby Down Under.