Aviva Premiership
Sharks confirm Gray departure
ESPN Staff
April 29, 2013
Sale Sharks' second row Richie Gray leads an attack on the Worcester Warriors defence. Sale Sharks v Worcester Warriors, Aviva Premiership, Salford City Stadium, Salford, England, December 28, 2012
Scotland international Richie Gray will swap the Premiership for the Top 14 next season © Getty Images

Sale Sharks have confirmed that Scotland international Richie Gray will leave the club at the end of the season and is set to sign for French side Castres.

Gray, 23, only signed for the Sharks last summer but is understood to have exercised a break clause in his three-year contract that will enable him to move across the Channel. The lock has been linked with a move to Castres for several months although Top 14 transfer regulations prevented any deal being made public until this point in the season.

Sharks boss Steve Diamond has moved quickly to fill the void ahead of the end of the current campaign with the signing of Russian international lock Kirill Kulemin. The 32-year-old becomes the second player to swap relegated London Welsh for Sale Sharks in the wake of Tom Arscott's capture last month.

Diamond knows all about the giant lock's formidable ability having worked with him when he was in charge of the Russian national side. And in an additional boost he will arrive at Barton bearing a French passport thanks to the six years he spent playing with Castres.

Kulemin is one of three new signing announced by the club with highly-rated Kiwi-born No.8 Michael Paterson, who qualifies for England through his grandfather, making the switch from PRO12 side Cardiff Blues and flanker Charlie Walker-Blair joining from Championship side Jersey. And there should be more good news for Sharks fans in the pipeline with Diamond hopeful of concluding at least one and possibly more deals later this week.

"All three are very important signings for us," said Diamond. "Michael has been outstanding for Cardiff and has been one of their key players over the past few seasons.Cardiff were very keen to retain him and he will be a really key addition to our pack next season. Though Michael has played at number eight predominantly this season for Cardiff, going forward I see him more as a lock for us.

"In terms of Kiril I know him very well from working with him with the Russian national side. He has played very well for London Welsh this season and has a huge physical presence. He also has massive experience from his time with Castres. He played very well against us too earlier this season.

"As for Charlie, he is someone that we have had our eyes on for quite a while now. He was out for a year with a knee injury but has totally recovered from that and has been playing really well with Jersey. He's a really talented number six and is a really big, imposing lad and he will also add a lot to our pack."

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