As another club season has drawn to a close, the signing of players has been prevalent! Newcastle have recruited intelligently with new signings like Scotland International, Bruce Douglas, former Cherry & White, Rory Lawson and Italian, Del Fava. Recruitment seems to be top of the list for most clubs in the Premiership, both on the pitch and behind the scenes. With Nigel Redman rejoining the coaching staff at Worcester and Dean Richards becoming Director of Rugby at Newcastle, clubs have realised the need for change.
With more and more top-class players being drawn to the Aviva Premiership, next season looks likely to be the best season yet and with these new arrivals, it’ll be hard to stray from the talent, skill and physicality on the turf. Who will be the best outsider to come into or rejoin the English game?
Dean Mumm – NSW Waratahs to Exeter Chiefs- After a superb season, with a guarantee of Heineken Cup Rugby, Baxter’s men really are the evidence that money doesn’t always mean success. However, with the addition of this certain Australian lump in the Second Row, teams may find scrummaging and Lineouts rather more challenging. Dean Mumm, who has 33 caps for the Aussies and has had vast Super 15 experience with the NSW Waratahs is looking like one of the biggest moves this summer. At 28, Mumm seems to be at the peak of his career, well done indeed Mr Baxter!
James Haskell – Highlanders to London Wasps- He’s back! Haskell is finally returning to his father club. Still one of the best Blind-Side’s England has to offer, and with his sheer power Wasps should have little issue with forward prowess next season. At the 2011 RWC Haskell seemed like a light in the hugely lugubrious dark for England. Hopefully he can bring experience, devotion and future silverware to the club.
Richie Gray – Glasgow Warriors to Sale Sharks- Not only is this man an extraordinary athlete, I would think more than twice about getting anywhere near him, let alone tackling him. A 6’10, 125kg Second Rower is just what Sale need to get their Scrum going, particularly with the addition of Eifion Lewis-Roberts as well. In my opinion, Gray would be one of the first Brits on the team sheet for the Lions Tour next year. With ability mimicking the great Martin Johnson, Courtney Lawes and Paul O’Connell, Richie Gray should help create a new, dynamic squad being overlooked by Steve Diamond.
Ben Morgan – Llanelli Scarlets to Gloucester Rugby- What a talent this young man is. After his barnstorming Six Nations, I think every Englishman relaxed in the knowledge he chose England over the Welsh! A powerhouse at the back of the pack, Morgan has an abundance of ability and I very much look forward to seeing him in a Cherry & Whites shirt next season (all be it, jealous).
Danny Cipriani – Melbourne Rebels to Sale Sharks- Cipriani is back in England and still one of the best attacking Fly-Half’s in the Hemisphere. However due to recent incidents surrounding the Fly-Half, is Diamond’s choice really that sensible? Almost certainly. If Cipriani reproduces the running rugby and form he displayed at Wasps all those years ago, Sale could be looking at two good options at 10. Let’s hope he can impress Lancaster, and ensure his defensive game is on song.
Dean Schofield – Toulon to Worcester Warriors- What is it with Second Row’s nowadays? Some of the world’s best: Botha & Shaw, all playing great rugby at the still youthful age of 30 odd and over. So former Premiership man, Schofield has a lot to offer the Sixways hopeful, with both physicality and experience. Another man mountain, along with current Warriors, Percival, Gillies and Jones, Worcester still remain firmly blessed in the 4 and 5 department.
Drew Locke – Cornish Pirates to Gloucester Rugby- The former Coventry and Exeter Centre has recently spent life down in England’s 2nd Division. However the Pirates have recently produced some of the best talent on offer throughout the country, with Quins star, Matt Hopper and Warriors double; Sam Betty and Blair Cowan. From what I’ve witnessed a capable, intelligent and creative player, I think he could be one of the surprise signings of the Summer.
Cameron Shepherd – Western Force to Northampton Saints- The Australian Full-Back is likely to be a possible replacement for Vicarage Road bound, Ashton, with the ability to play out-wide. What seems to make him one of Mallinder’s picks is his quality kicking game. A decent signing who is guaranteed to make an entrance in the Winter of 2012!
Jimmy Cowan – Highlanders to Gloucester Rugby- The veteran New Zealand Scrum-Half is still one of the world’s greatest. With the loss of Rory Lawson, the snapping up of Cowan seems like a major step in the right direction for the Midlands team. With Cowan’s accurate passing and kicking game, Gloucester look set for a top five finish.
Semisi Taulava – Rotheram Titans to Worcester Warriors- Not a household name by any means, yet Taulava seems to be of a similar style to Akapusi Qera or a Jerome Kaino-esque player. A huge man, with huge intentions I’m sure, the loss of Horstmann to the Chiefs will seem much less significant. A Tongan monster to add to Redman’s new campaign.
Inward Transfers-Top 5 to watch out for:
Miles Benjamin – Worcester Warriors to Leicester Tigers
Dan Bowden – London Irish to Leicester Tigers
Billy Twelvetrees – Leicester Tigers to Gloucester Rugby
Chris Ashton – Northampton Saints to Saracens
Rob Webber – London Wasps to Bath Rugby
Next season looks a little too hot to handle! I cannot wait!