Newcastle Falcons have confirmed the signing of Scotland prop Euan Murray on a two-and-a-half-year deal.
The 30-year-old has been a free agent since being released from his contract by Northampton earlier this month, and the Falcons have beaten off interest from the likes of Bath and Scarlets to secure his signature.
The signing of tighthead Murray, a Lions tourist to South Africa last year, is a major boost to Alan Tait's side, who have struggled to replace former All Black Carl Hayman in their front row following his departure to Toulon in the summer.
"I'm delighted with my move to Newcastle," said Murray.
"I can't wait to get stuck in and I'm really looking forward to pulling on the Falcons jersey. The move up to Newcastle was the best option for me and my family."
One of the reasons for Murray's release from Northampton was his refusal to play on Sundays due to his religious beliefs, but Tait does not believe that will be a major factor for the Falcons, who play the majority of their home games on a Friday night.
"We're delighted to sign a proven high quality tight head prop," he said.
"Our preferred time to play our games is a Friday night and while some
games do get moved for television, we will have Euan available for more games than we would most current international players."