CENTRE Gareth Maule is relishing a fresh challenge over the border after leaving the Scarlets for Bristol, writes Chris Kirwan.

The 26-year-old from Pontypool has been released from the final year of his contract to sign for the big-spending English Championship outfit.

Maule headed west in 2009 after being released by Newport Gwent Dragons and went on to make 115 appearances for the Llanelli side.

He said: “This decision was definitely the hardest I have had to make during my rugby career but I felt that this opportunity could provide me with a fresh challenge, one which I am very excited about.

“I depart with some invaluable memories, gathered in my years with this special club and feel honoured to have worn the famous Scarlet jersey on so many occasions and to join the list of centurions is something that makes immensely proud.

“I'll be forever grateful for the opportunity that the Scarlets gave me in top-level professional rugby and I wish everyone all the best for what I feel will be a very prosperous future.”

Scott Williams, Regan King, Michael Tagicakibau, Adam Warren, Gareth Owen and Steff Hughes will battle for starting midfield spots at the Scarlets in the coming campaign.