Alex Grove at Edinburgh to strengthen his World Cup prospects

ALEX Grove hailed his loan move to Edinburgh as crucial in maintaining his efforts to add to three Scotland caps on the day that the club also confirmed the signing of Fijian No 8 Netani Talei from Worcester.

The Scotsman understands that Edinburgh have made up their mind on which of two Argentine internationalists they will add to the squad this summer as well and plumped for the current 28-year-old Pumas lock, Esteban Lozada, who is likely to feature against Scotland in Argentina next month, over the 35-year-old ex-skipper, Carlos Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe.

Talei will add some bulk to the Edinburgh back row while 15-times capped Lozada, signed from Toulon, brings Argentine front-five experience. Both targets were revealed in The Scotsman over a week ago alongside the loan move agreed with Grove, and the Scotland centre explained yesterday that he was indebted to Worcester chairman Cecil Duckworth for allowing him to break his contract after the club was relegated to the English Championship.

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"I owe a lot to Worcester," he said. "They have given me this opportunity and been prepared to put me out on loan. The chairman Cecil Duckworth has backed me from the start and part of the agreement was that I signed a year's contract extension to the end of 2012, and in return he would put me on loan and let me pursue my Scotland ambitions. The Edinburgh move was based on my desire to push forward my international career with Scotland. I realised that if I was to play in the Championship with Worcester next year I'd be almost ruling myself out of the World Cup and there are not many opportunities one person gets to play in a World Cup.

"Edinburgh were prepared to give me an opportunity and Andy Robinson and Rob Moffat supported that and I can't wait to get up and play with the guys. Many of the guys are in the Scotland squad so it will be good working within those combinations."

Grove has agreed to return to Worcester by 31 January 2011, the last registration date for playing in England next season, but he hopes to be involved with Scotland through February and March and then be part of Scotland's build-up for the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand so there is some flexibility.

The 22-year-old starts tonight against the Japan Select alongside one of his new teammates in Nick De Luca, the latter being handed the no13 jersey, as both look to put pressure on the incumbents, Glasgow pair Graeme Morrison and Max Evans.

Fijian no8-cum-blindside flanker Telai has signed a three-year contract with Edinburgh, but, currently away for the IRB Pacific Nations Cup, he will also be pushing for Fiji's squad for next year's World Cup.

Moffat was also looking at experienced internationalists either retired from Test rugby, such as Lobbe, or no longer earning Test selection, to bolster the experience in the squad, but has opted for in-form Test performers.

The Lozada signing is still to be officially confirmed and 27-year-old Talei has to gain work permit clearance, expected to be a formality, but Moffat said: "We're pleased to have signed Netani.

"We've watched him closely and have done our homework on him. We believe he'll give us that dynamic ball-carrying ability in the back-row and we feel his strengths will dovetail nicely with how we play."

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Reflecting on his move, Talei said: "I'm really excited to be joining Edinburgh.

"I was at the club earlier this month and met up with Rob Moffat and I know that they play the same type of rugby that I want to play. I'm looking forward to being part of an open style which I think can suit my off-loading game.

"It will be good for me to play in the Magners League and, of course, the Heineken Cup. I just want to play some decent rugby and do my best for Edinburgh."