THE Ospreys have eased their injury crisis with the signing of former All Blacks prop Campbell Johnstone.
The 32-year-old, who has joined until the end of the season, will fill a worrying void at tight-head for the Ospreys, who are without Adam Jones, Aaron Jarvis and Joe Rees in that position.
The RaboDirect Pro12 champions have already brought Cai Griffiths back to the region on loan from London Irish for the rest of this term, and Johnstone's arrival will further bolster their wounded pack.
After leaving Biarritz in the summer, former Canterbury Crusader Johnstone was a target for the Scarlets earlier this year, and he will go straight into the Ospreys squad for Saturday's Heineken Cup trip to Toulouse.
"The arrival of Campbell and Cai gives us some much needed options at tight-head, given the injuries we've suffered and the ongoing commitments we have to the national set-up at senior and age-grade level," said Andy Lloyd, the Ospreys' rugby operations manager.
"Campbell will go straight into our squad on his arrival. Although Cai is ineligible for the Heineken Cup having played in the Amlin Cup this season, he will have a big part to play in our Pro12 defence.
"We remain entirely committed to development from within and don't take any decision to look outside the group for injury cover lightly.
"However, we have a responsibility to our supporters, management and directors to remain competitive, as well as to our players for their personal welfare.
"Given the complete lack of any professional experience in our remaining options, there is quite simply no way we could go the rest of the season without bringing in additional cover."
A powerful scrummager, Johnstone has made three appearances for New Zealand, though the most recent of his caps came back in 2005 against the British and Irish Lions.
Having found his path to the All Blacks' first team blocked by the likes of Carl Hayman, Greg Somerville and John Afoa, Johnstone moved to Biarritz in 2008 and spent four seasons with the French club.
He played 80 games for Biarritz — including their dramatic one-point win over the Ospreys in their 2010 Heineken Cup quarter-final — and, after leaving in the summer, the prop returned to New Zealand to play for Tasman in the ITM Cup.
His arrival comes at an opportune time for the Ospreys, whose hopes of remaining in the Heineken Cup depend on their forthcoming double-header against former European champions Toulouse.