Wales have secured the services of highly respected and experienced fitness expert Paul Stridgeon as consultant Head of Physical Performance.
Stridgeon linked up with the national squad on Monday as Wales began their Rugby World Cup preparations with initial conditioning training.
The 34-year-old will oversee the Welsh Rugby Union's Physical Performance department on a tournament-by-tournament basis combining that role with his Head of Strength and Conditioning position at Champions Cup holders Toulon.
Stridgeon, a former Freestyle Wrestler who represented England at the 2002 Commonwealth Games, joined Toulon last year after six years as England's National Fitness Coach.
He already has a close working relationship with a number of the Wales management team and players having toured with the British and Irish Lions as fitness coach in 2009 and 2013. His relationship with Head Coach Warren Gatland stretches further back to their time together at Wasps where they won both European and domestic titles.
Stridgeon takes the lead in a department which has become renowned for the quality of their player conditioning programmes and features Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coaches John Ashby and Huw Bennett, Sports Scientist Ryan Chambers, National Academy Strength and Conditioning Coach Mark Kilgallon and Nutritionist Jon Williams.
Preparations for this year's Rugby World Cup began on Monday, with the initial batch of players reporting for conditioning training at the state-of-the-art WRU National Centre of Excellence (NCE), following rest periods after last season.
The squad will continue to report for duty at the NCE before heading to Switzerland and Qatar in July for gruelling training camps and Gatland is delighted to have brought Stridgeon into his management team.
"Paul will be a huge asset to the national squad and I'm delighted that we have been able to secure his services," he told wru.co.uk.
"I would like to thank the Welsh Rugby Union for their efforts in once again ensuring we have the strongest possible management team and I would also like to thank Toulon and in particular their President Mourad Boudjellal for his help and ongoing assistance in creating this role, which I believe will benefit both sides.
"He is one of the best sports strength and conditioners around and his success in previous roles speaks for itself.
"I have been looking to bring Paul in for a number of years and his dedication, skill and expertise will be a huge benefit to us.
"He is well known to a number of players and will compliment the team and plans currently in place."
Stridgeon said: "It is fantastic to link up with Wales and return to the International game in what is a very exciting year."
"It is a very professional environment to come into, with state-of-the-art facilities, leading players and coaches and a history of great conditioning pedigree.
"I worked alongside many of the coaches and players with the British and Irish Lions, so have a good understanding of the environment.
"The physical performance department are very skilled and experienced and I'm looking forward to working alongside them.
"I would like to thank Toulon for this unique opportunity that will enable me to combine roles which I believe will have a great benefit for both teams."