Dmitri Arhip has given a big thumbs up to his compatriot, Gheorghe Gajion, after he was confirmed today as the second ever Moldovan to sign for the Ospreys.
Gajion, 25, a 13 times capped international tight head, is the sixth new player confirmed for next season, following in the footsteps of Arhip who leaves the region for France this summer after five and a half years and close to a century of appearances.
Having worked closely with Gajion on international duty, Arhip has no doubt that the new signing will quickly establish himself with the Ospreys over the coming months and seasons.
“Gheorghe can be very successful for this team” said Arhip.
“He’s a man who wants to push hard in everything he does, in the gym or on the pitch. He’s hard working and his biggest thing is he is very, very strong.
“Gheorghe is coming here to learn, to accumulate experience and I’m sure he will be a good player for the Ospreys.”
Now firmly established as a fans favourite and leading tight head, it was a very different story when Arhip arrived at the Ospreys very much under the radar towards the end of 2012, providing much needed cover amidst a front row injury crisis.
Arhip admits he sees similarities in Gajion to his 2012 self:
“It’s hard to talk about yourself but I think, in our minds, we are very similar people. I remember coming here as a young man and working hard, doing extra sessions every day to improve and close the gap between me and the experienced players. I see Gheorghe as someone who will have the same mentality.
“He knows that he is coming somewhere that will be new for him, will be a challenge with more experienced players, but I know it won’t take him long to close that gap.
“What is most important in our position is strength, and he is very strong. What Ospreys will do is give him the coaching to take his technique on and I know that Clarkie will push him in the right direction.”
With Sunday’s Champions Cup play-off against Ulster his final game for the Region, Arhip took the opportunity to look back at his time in Wales and to acknowledge that Ospreylia will always be a special place for him.
“It’s the last game for me as an Osprey and it’s an important one” he said.
“I know that we need to play well, that Ulster will be very difficult to play against, but it will be very nice for us to win this game and qualify for the Champions Cup.
“It was a very difficult decision for me to decide to go to France, to move or not. I’ve been here five and a half years and I have really enjoyed my time. I want to say thank you very much to the Ospreys as they made me a professional player. They gave me that opportunity.
“Every day has been special over the last five years. I’ve worked with some very special players and coaches and I am thankful for that. I’ve enjoyed going to work and learning so much from people like Alun Wyn, Duncan and Adam.
“I have been proud to wear the Ospreys jersey and have been happy to be part of the team. I will always be an Ospreys supporter, wherever I go, I will never forget what I’ve had here. It is my second home now, my two children were born here, and it will always be in my heart.”