It seems like January is becoming an increasingly busy period for clubs with regards recruitment. With an increase in the salary cap for next year some major business has taken place so far this season. So who is going where? And what do I think each of the clubs require?
Confirmed deals – Luke Charteris (Racing Metro), Talupe Faletau (Dragons), Amanaki Mafi and Dan Bowden (both short term contracts).
What do they need? – A scrum half, since loosing Peter Stringer the service to no. 10 has been erratic to say the least and this prevents their backline from operating at the level we saw last season. A back rower that isn’t a no. 8, they book a bit light on the flanks for me after having to push Garvey into the second row and it looks like Louw needs a mucker to help him out.
Confirmed deals – None so far
What do they need? – A very settled squad that will only improve with the experience from this season but as with any good team there is room for tweaking. I think they could do with a full back to challenge Dollman, but they might be focussed on bringing through some youngsters. I can’t help but feel that they need another winger as well. Each of the big clubs has a go to finisher and other than Nowell I don’t really see this being the case for the chiefs.
Confirmed deals – Joe Latta (Highlanders)
What do they need? – With injuries still being an issue for Purdy another centre could be top of their list and this could also be the case with injuries to Morgan and Evans at no. 8. However, things are now starting to click at Kingsholm so a large influx isn’t required.
Confirmed deals – Beau Robinson (Reds as injury cover)
What do they need? – They are flying high after adding more power to their team with Roberts and Horwill. It will be interesting to see how they go in the 6 nations with international call ups, bearing this in mind I think they could do with one more power based player, either a forward r a back, who won’t be called up during the international fixture period.
Confirmed deals – Matt Toomua (Brumbies),
What do they need? – The old aura of the Tigers appears to be fading at the minute so they need to get it back with some hard-nosed forwards that intimidate the opposition. This person could be Ed Slater if he ever gets a run of games but otherwise perhaps they should look for a new no. 6 who is a bit of an enforcer. Additionally, You can guarantee the two scrum halves in the squad will be Ben Youngs and Sam Harrison and I can’t help but feel that they need more competition at no.9.
Confirmed deals – James Marshall (Hurricanes)
What do they need? – To stay in the Premiership is the short of it. If they can do that then they can build and keep hold of players like Mat Symons. Looking at their squad I think they need another 2nd row and a scrum half of distinct quality to help get their exciting backline moving at a higher tempo. A new back rower wouldn’t go a miss as well.
Confirmed deals – Andy Goode (Short term deal), Belisario Agulla (Agen)
What do they need? – The signing of Andy Goode will get them playing in the right areas and could prove costly to his previous employers London Irish, but they never really replaced Gopperth and so a fly half must be near the top of the list. Otherwise a big ball carrying 2nd row or back rower would be useful to regularly get them over the gain line.
Confirmed deals – Louis Picamoles (Toulose)
What do they need? – The signing of Picamoles goes a long way to cover the lose of Manu Samoa who was the focal point for a lot of the Saints attacking game. I would otherwise say a centre would be on their list just to mix up the established group and possibly a new scrum half to test the established pair of Dickson and Fotuali’i. Either way next season I anticipate Saints being back to near their power packed best.
Confirmed deals – none
What do they need? – To keep hold of their young English stable of players. Other clubs regularly seem to circle Sale at this time of year like vultures and try to pick up their best young talent, so if they can keep hold of them then that would be a big statement. If I were in Steve Diamond’s shoes top of my list would be a big ball carrying 2nd row and a pilfering back rower to replace Dan Braid who is moving into the coaching setup both players need to be of significant experience to help this side develop.
Confirmed deals – Schalk Burger (Suntory Sungoliath), Kieran Low (Glasgow, short term deal)
What do they need? – Well how do you improve on a club that has a 100% record in the league and Europe? Sign a world cup winning back rower to replace Ernst Joubert and Jacques Burger. I currently can’t see where much improvement is required but I’m sure Mark McCall probably has his eyes on someone. I would say another winger but young Nathan Earle should be ready to make the step up after an injury filled year last year. Otherwise I really don’t know as they have an embarrassment of riches.
Confirmed deals – none
What do they need? – Wasps have been a bit inconsistent this season, amazing in Europe and less so in the league but if their pursuit of Leigh Halfpenny was anything to go by it looks like a new full back could come in to try and help bring the consistency they require. Additionally, a new hooker probably wouldn’t go a miss either. They are now very close to challenging back at the top table again.
Confirmed deals – Ben Te’o (Leinster), Jackson Willison (Grenoble), James Johnston (Wasps)
What do they need? – Something is stirring in Worcester under the watchful eye of Dean Ryan and some of their signings are a real statement of intent to improve on their already good season. Ben Te’o is English qualified and wants a jersey with a red rose on it. If they can couple his eagerness to a fly half that will take the ball to the line then he might not be far away. I would also say some young blood in the pack to help take the burden of Donnacha O’Callaghan and Phil Dowson would also be useful.