SOMERSET have swooped to sign Australian Test batsman Justin Langer and are hoping he will return next season.

The left-handed opener has joined on a six-week deal and will arrive in the third week of June, which will allow him to take part in this year's Twenty20 Cup.

After losing Ian Blackwell for the rest of the season and Australian Dan Cullen for six weeks, Somerset needed a top class player to compensate and Langer fits the bill perfectly.

The 35-year-old has played 100 Tests, scoring over 7,000 runs, including 22 centuries, at an average of 45.35.

In first class cricket, he has scored 23,121 runs at an average of 50.26, notching up 71 hundreds.

Brian Rose, Somerset's director of cricket, said: "We are delighted Justin has agreed to join us.

"He offers so much both on and off the field and will be a tremendous help to us as a player.

"Justin will also be an informal coach because he has a great rapport with the younger players."

"I can also state that Justin and myself have been talking about him returning for the 2007 season, which we will have further discussions about when he arrives.

"If he does come back next season he would be a huge asset, not just because of his quality as a batsman but because he will be a a great influence in the development of our young squad."

One of Somerset's young guns Arul Suppiah, who has recently established himself in the championship and one-day line-up, has already benefitted from Langer's expertise.

Suppiah spent time working with the left hander while out in Perth during the winter.

"He's a pretty intense character cricket wise who works very hard at his game," said Suppiah.

"He spoke to me for an hour about how to go about my cricket and told me, everytime I go to the middle, to back myself and if it doesn't work then you go back to the nets. He said to get a balance between physical fitness, technical skill and mental attitude as well as overall preparation which is key.

"He also told me Andy Caddick was the best bowler he has ever faced."