Gallagher Premiership 2018/19: Key Summer Transfers Part 2

Paul Gustard

In the second instalment of this series, I will be analysing Harlequins, Leicester, Newcastle and then Northampton all of which have had a busy summer in terms of recruitment.

Harlequins

Harlequins is a second club to me, therefore I was disappointed, outraged and embarrassed by their performances last season. I always thought that Kingston was out of his depth and would spout utter nonsense when Harlequins lost, which became quite frequent in the latter stages of his tenure. However, next season can be the beginning of a new era, with Paul Gustard leaving the England setup to take on unchartered waters, taking the top job at a club for the first time.

In light of this new shake up, there have been numerous ins and outs.

Key Transfers In
Nathan Earle is a very good signing from Saracens, who despite having England call ups and scoring the final try in the Premiership final did struggle to cement a place in a side competing with the likes of American stalwart Chris Wyles, Liam Williams and Sean Maitland. If Quins’ pack dominate proceedings and give this guy some quality ball he will score some crackers. The other key signings for me have been powerhouses Ben Tapuai from Bath and Paul Lasike from Utah Warriors, they are both quality international centres with destructive, direct ball-carrying while Tapuai is also a stylish playmaker and will more than fill the void that the departing Jamie Roberts has left.

Key Transfers Out
Talking of Roberts, I think he has been one of the key departures and I think Harlequins will really miss him to be honest. He had a really good stint at the club, and last season despite his club’s woes probably played some of his best rugby with an almost unstoppable directness in attack at times. But he was also a leader and was vastly experienced, and I think he will be dearly missed both on the field and by the supporters. I think Quins fans will also miss Charlie Matthews, a quality second rower who always gave it all but perhaps struggled too much with inconsistency.

How does this affect their first choice XV?
The departure of Roberts certainly does change things in my opinion but because Tapuai has injury issues I think Lasike gets the nod over the Australian, but I can’t see Nathan Earle breaking into the 1st team straight away. I also think lock Alex Dombrandt has some real potential and could break into the 1st team soon but I don’t want to get carried away:

1. Joe Marler
2. Dave Ward
3. Kyle Sinckler
4. Stan South
5. James Horwill (c)
6. Chris Robshaw
7. Jack Clifford
8. Mat Luamanu
9. Danny Care
10. Marcus Smith
11. Charlie Walker
12. Paul Lasike
13. Joe Marchant
14. Tim Visser
15. Mike Brown

Leicester Tigers

It was a very disappointing season for Tigers fans, as has been the case now for far too long, and sacking Matt O’Connor won’t solve all the problems, which go higher up. The Tigers have made some decent signings in the back five but the manner in which players have been offloaded outweighs any benefits of the new signings in my opinion.

Key Transfers In:
Tigers’ main issue last season was the lack of grunt in the engine room, Dom Barrow is usually the go to man for that kind of power but, if you believe the rumours something went wrong behind the scenes and he has since left for Northampton. So they have signed an absolute unit and one of my favourite players from last season, Will Spencer. This guy will do the hard yards and will be very hard to stop as well as adding an accomplished option in the lineout. Another key signing has been Guy Thompson, an excellent loose forward who has serious wheels and has some abrasiveness that has resulted in some fine tries and line breaks over the years for Wasps.

Key Transfers Out:
Dom Barrow is a name I have already mentioned, while a majority of fans will sincerely miss the never-say-die attitude of Harry Thacker but I think Leicester will miss Luke Hamilton the most. He was one of their few true leaders on and off the pitch, offered serious dog on the pitch and gave a shift every time, despite hardly ever being played at 6 (his best position). And when people are questioning the lack of leadership within the Tigers ranks, you must really ponder as to why they let Hamilton go.

How does this affect their 1st choice XV?

Whilst I think Will Spencer and Guy Thompson will walk straight in, the impact might not be felt by other signings. It’s the England U20s internationals you have got to look out for too, plus you have to admit that the Tigers possess the best front row in the Premiership – but unfortunately due to Genge and Thompson being out with injury till January and Polota-Nau with Australia, we won’t see Tigers’ first choice pack for a while:

1 Ellis Genge
2 Tatafu Poluta-Nau
3 Dan Cole
4 Harry Wells
5 Will Spencer
6 Sione Kalamafoni
7 Brendan O’Connor
8 Guy Thompson
9 Ben Youngs
10 George Ford
l1 Jonny May
12 Matt Toomua
13 Manu Tuilagi
14 Jonah Holmes
15 Telusa Veainu

Newcastle Falcons

Riding on a high after having their best season for 21 years, the Falcons have made some additions in order to sustain their position from last season, which is something I believe that they will struggle with.

Key Transfers In:
Former sevens star Nemani Nagusa will add the X-Factor and power to the Falcons pack and is pretty much their like for like replacement for Nili Latu. Also centre Johnny Williams has signed from London Irish and could make a real impact with his sturdy ball-carrying and was one of the Exiles few excellent players last season.

Key Transfers Out
I think Falcons fans will miss the ball-carrying ability of Argentine Juan Pablo Socino, whilst several retirements such as Rob Vickers will hit the club hard but I think they will cope.

How will this affect their 1st choice XV?

I think signings like Samoan prop Logovi’i Mulipola and Fijian Nagusa will make an immediate impact on the starting lineup, but the Falcons team won’t be much different from last year. The problem will be keeping them all fit, I do really feel for Mulipola’s tape-ridden leg on a 4G pitch!

1. Sam Lockwood
2. Kyle Cooper
3. Logovi’i Mulipola
4. Calum Green
5. Tevita Cavubati
6. Mark Wilson
7. Gary Graham
8. Nemani Nagusa
9. Sonatane Takulua
10. Toby Flood
11. Sinoti Sinoti
12. Josh Matavesi
13. Chris Harris
14. Vereniki Goneva
15. Alex Tait

Northampton Saints

Aside from the Falcons, it’s fair to say that all the teams in this Part 2 had below-par seasons but the Saints were the most disappointing by far. However, they did have a mini-resurgence under interim veteran head coach Alan Gaffney and will cherish the fact that they did the League double over rivals Leicester, something which hasn’t happened for a long time. I have been mightily impressed as to how the Saints look to recover with the announcement that Super Rugby winning head coach Chris Boyd
will be taking over and they have made some impressive signings.

Key Transfers In:

There seems to be a focus on the backs this year. Firstly, flyhalf Dan Biggar who will offer the Saints a great kicking option as well as an outstanding receiver of the ball in the air. The other key transfer for me has been capped Wallaby and Waratahs superstar Taquele Naiyaravoro who is coming in to the Saints off a string of impressive performances in Super Rugby where he crossed the whitewash 15 times in 2018. While his form is regarded by some as inconsistent, it cannot be ignored that he is a big, big winger and will always take some stopping.

Key Transfers Out:

I’m pretty sure in saying that Northampton have had the biggest clearout of all the Premiership clubs during the off season, there are so many who Franklin Gardens will miss dearly. Retirements have particularly hit the Saints hard as they will miss the leadership and experience of Christian Day but especially the commitment, attacking play and X-Factor of Wallaby Rob Horne who was cruelly forced to give up the game after suffering major nerve damage to his arm. Not only them but Saints will miss all that George North offered in his four years at the club and the longtime service of flyhalf Stephen Myler.

How will this affect their 1st choice XV?

The comings and goings have dramatically changed what I would deem is Northampton’s first choice team. The pack probably hasn’t changed that much but the backline definitely has:

1. Ben Franks
2. Dylan Hartley
3. Paul Hill
4. Courtney Lawes
5. Api Ratuniyarawa
6. James Haskell
7. Heinrich Brüssow
8. Teimana Harrison
9. Cobus Reinach
10. Dan Biggar
11. Tom Collins
12. Luther Burrell
13. Nafi Tuitavake
14. Taquele Naiyaravoro
15. Ahsee Tuala

By Jacob Bassford (add me on Twitter @jacob_bassford and subscribe to my Youtube channel @FlyingG_Sports)

8 thoughts on “Gallagher Premiership 2018/19: Key Summer Transfers Part 2

  1. I think that it’s fair to say that I haven’t got a clue how any of these teams will perform next season. On paper, I reckon Tigers look the strongest, but can they keep players healthy? I have a sneaky suspicion that Falcons will continue where they left off last season, as coaching really does matter.




    0
  2. Note: I listed Ben Franks as my first choice loosehead for the Saints, I wrote this before Alex Waller was announced as captain and before Franks played preseason friendlies for Northampton at tighthead, not loosehead. Apologies.




    1
    1. No mention of Dom Barrow or Haskell coming into the Saints Team who i think will be very influential. Saints have struggled for parity in the pack in the last couple of seasons and these two brings experience and warrior attitude which will help saints get more front foot ball. As well as Naiyaravoro (who is an excellent signing) we have also signed Kellaway who is another exciting winger and will probably push Collins out to the bench




      0
      1. My Saints starting team (plus bench)
        Still got some serious concerns about our depth in the key positions of scrum half and fly half
        1. Alex Waller
        2. Dylan Hartley
        3. Ben Franks
        4. Courtney Lawes
        5. Dom Barrow
        6. Jamie Gibson
        7. Heinrich Brüssow
        8. James Haskell
        9. Cobus Reinach
        10. Dan Biggar
        11. Andrew Kellaway
        12. Luther Burrell
        13. Nafi Tuitavake
        14. Taquele Naiyaravoro
        15. Ahsee Tuala

        Joe Gray
        Francois Van Wyk
        Jamal Ford-Robinson
        Api Ratuniyarawa
        Teimana Harrison
        Alex Mitchell
        Harry Mallinder
        Tom Collins




        1

Leave a Reply