Aviva Premiership clubs have made a multitude of mouth-watering signings for the 2016/17 season. The fact that Ben Te’o, AJ MacGinty, JP Pietersen, Matt Toomua, Fiji Sevens star Savenaca Rawaca and Rugby League convert Josh Charnley have failed to make this top five is testament to the quality of players heading to England.
Here are the top five signings we’re most looking forward to seeing in action.
KURTLEY BEALE – Wasps
The 27 year-old is one of many star signings to be welcomed at the Ricoh Arena. However Beale’s quality in particular marks him out as one of the most exciting additions to the Premiership.
The Wallaby, who has been 60 capped times by his country, is one of the world’s most talented playmakers and is likely to slot in at inside centre for Wasps alongside the likes of Danny Cipriani, Elliot Daly and Willie Le Roux. He is also equally capable at fullback.
However Beale suffered a horrendous patella tendon injury in May. Wasps are hopeful he will be available by November, but undoubtedly his damaged knee is a blow to the Coventry based side.
Once fully fit, Beale has the skill set and audacity to set the Premiership alight. Here are some of his finest moments.
SCHALK BURGER – Saracens
Burger is a giant of the game and it will be tough to find a more distinguished individual playing in the Premiership next season. The former Stormers’ flanker was an integral part of the 2007 World Cup winning Springbok team, and also had a phenomenal tournament in 2015.
At 33, one of the questions surrounding Burger will be whether or not he is still playing anywhere near his best, but his form of 2015 would suggest that he can.
The 2004 IRB Player of the Year will contribute both on and off the pitch, bringing vast experience to an already impressive Saracens unit.
He is renowned for his character and strength of will, and famously suffered a serious bout of Meningitis in 2013, before fighting back to give an incredible performance in the World Cup two years later.
He was awarded the prestigious Laureus Comeback of the Year award for this achievement.
Burger will be a star of the Premiership and fans across the country will be eager to see the Springboks’ trademark physicality in action.
WILLIE LE ROUX – Wasps
Le Roux is arguably the most exciting signing of all, as he has decided to join Wasps in the prime of his career. Although his form has dipped slightly in recent times, peaking with an omission from the South Africa 2016 Rugby Championship squad, he is up there with the likes of Israel Folau and Ben Smith as one of the world’s best fullbacks.
His outstanding talent was acknowledged with a place on the shortlist for IRB World Player of the Year in 2014. At just 26, Le Roux still has plenty to offer and will complete a devastating back three for Wasps, joining Christian Wade and Frank Halai.
Due to commitments in Japan he will join up with Wasps midway through the season but this could be an advantage for Wasps. They have a brilliant backline and Rob Miller is a more than able deputy.
Le Roux’s arrival could therefore inject a boost during the season that other teams will not have. His trademark show and go followed by the outside break is truly a sight to behold.
LOUIS PICAMOLES – Northampton Saints
The rampaging French Number 8 is sure to be hit with the Northampton faithful. His abrasive style of play and immense ball carrying will be vital to the Saints this season. Picamoles will fill the hole left by Samu Manoa and give the pack some much needed go forward.
He has been capped over 50 times by France and his performances for Toulouse have marked him as a world class player on his day.
A certain amount of intrigue surrounds the signing of Picamoles as very few French internationals have chosen to ply their trade in England in recent years, due to the injection of cash in the Top 14. The increased allowance of the salary caps means that more French stars may follow suit to the Premiership.
The transition of the 30 year-old from the French league to England will be interesting to follow and the prospect of match ups against the likes of Billy Vunipola and Nathan Hughes adds even more excitement to this signing.
TAULUPE FALETAU – Bath
The highly respected Welsh back-rower has crossed the Severn Bridge for Bath Rugby. Faletau has been a world-class operator for a couple of years now and is a shoo-in for the British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand in 2017.
He will bring Bath some much needed quality and a high work rate. The rationale behind his move was to aid his development as a player. It will therefore be interesting to see if the environment in Bath is conducive to further developing the 25 year-old’s game.
His work rate in defence is a sight to behold, especially for a number 8, and will establish him as one of the Premiership’s best back-rowers. A strong season for Faletau will be crucial in Bath’s attempt to return to the upper half of the Premiership.
The Premiership returns on Saturday the 16th of September