Stuart Olding has expressed his gratitude to Brive and is looking forward to getting back on the pitch after missing the whole of last season due to suspension.
Olding is set to play his first competitive fixture since April 2017 when Brive start their ProD2 campaign away to Bayonne on Saturday.
The four-time Ireland capped utility back was acquitted of rape last March but had his contract revoked by the IRFU and is looking forward to a new start in France with Brive, who are coached by former Ulster, Ireland and British Lions lock Jeremy Davidson.
“It’s been a blessing to get back out onto the pitch and get back into a team, I am very, very thankful to Brive for that, they took me under their wing and I settled in very well and I just want to repay them for that,” said Olding. “I settled in very well, a lot quicker than I thought, coming over, moving over to a new country and everything was exciting but quite daunting as well, not knowing anyone in the team apart from knowing of Jeremy Davidson back home, he had just left Ulster as I came into the academy that year but I settled in within the first week here and that’s down to the guys.
“They are all very helpful to me, very kind to me, showing me the ropes and around town, I’ve settled in excellently well.”
Olding signed a two-year contract with Brive and is just concentrating on life with his new club despite comments by David Nucifora, the IRFU performance director, who said in June he wasn’t ruling out a possible return to Ireland for the player.
“It was one of the guys showed me it, I didn’t actually even hear about it,” said Olding. “Who knows what will happen in the future?
“But I have signed here for two years and I plan on putting my full effort in here.”
Brive were relegated last season.
“We have put ourselves under a lot of pressure to get promotion as well,” he said. “That is definitely the aim, we are not just going to try and survive in the ProD2, our aim is to get back up to the Top14.”