Clermont announce signing of All Blacks wing Gear after Top 14 failure

The Auvergne club lost finals in the Top 14 and Champions Cup during the season just ended.

TWO DAYS AFTER their defeat to Stade Français in the Top 14 final, Clermont have announced the capture of All Blacks wing Hosea Gear ahead of next season.

The 31-year-old has signed a two-year deal with the Franck Azéma and Jono Gibbes-coached outfit, and will join from the Chiefs later this year.

Hosea Gear Gear was a try-scorer for Toulouse against Munster in the 2014 Heineken Cup quarter-finals. Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

Gear spent the 2013/14 season in France with Toulouse before making a brief switch to Honda Heat in Japan and then returning to his native New Zealand with the Chiefs. The powerful wing won 14 All Blacks caps between 2008 and 2013.

Clermont confirmed that Gear is the final addition they will make to their squad ahead of the 2015/16 season, with Flip van der Merwe, Scott Spedding, David Strettle, Adrien Planté and Camille Gérondeau already having agreed to join.

There remains strong doubt about the arrival of exceptional Highlanders wing Waisake Naholo, who signed a pre-contract agreement with Clermont but is understood to have reconsidered the switch after hints that the All Blacks were tracking him for international involvement.

Even if Naholo doesn’t join, Clermont will be left with strong options in the wing positions. Napolioni Nalaga is leaving the club for Lyon in the Pro D2, but Gear will have to compete with the dynamic Noa Nakaitaci, France international Adrian Planté and prolific former Saracens wing David Strettle for a place in the starting XV.

Saturday’s failure against Stade Français was a remarkable 11th loss in 12 Top 14 finals for Clermont. Their single league victory came in 2010 when Joe Schmidt was part of the coaching team under Vern Cotter.

David Strettle England international Strettle is also joining Clermont. Billy Stickland / INPHO Billy Stickland / INPHO / INPHO

The recruitment of the likes of Gear, van der Merwe, Spedding and Strettle is perhaps not as eye-catching as Toulon’s, but ASM will once again be firmly among the league and European contenders next season.

The defeats in both the Champions Cup and Top 14 finals in the campaign just ended show that the Auvergne-based club still has serious mental hurdles to overcome.

Clermont signings for 2015/16:

Hosea Gear (Chiefs)
Scott Spedding (Bayonne)
Flip van der Merwe (Blue Bulls)
Camille Gérondeau (Racing Métro)
Adrien Planté (Racing Métro)
David Strettle (Saracens)
Albert Vulivuli (Montpellier, medical joker for World Cup)
Iuri Natriashvili (Tulle, medical joker for World Cup)
Judicaël Cancoriet (Massy)

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