Sometimes a player can see their career stagnate at a club for reasons beyond their own control. We pick five players whose careers could go further with a move to another team.
5) George North
North was at one time regarded as one of the best players in the world and his exploits for the Scarlets, Wales and the Lions saw him approached by some of the biggest clubs in the world. It was therefore no great surprise when the giant winger signed for Northampton Saints back in 2013.
Since then Saints’ style of rugby in recent seasons has restricted North’s chance to show off his true abilities and his international form has suffered as well. The numerous head injuries he has suffered for club and country, including the recent concussion controversy against Leicester Tigers at Welford Road, have meant time off the pitch for North and his career seems to be stalling when it began at such a rapid pace.
One cannot help but feel a move back to Wales would do the Anglesey-raised powerhouse the world of good, and with the WRU working with the Welsh regions financially in terms of the National Dual Contracts, there is a chance to get the Welshman back to his roots and given the freedom to find the form that propelled North into the international arena as a teenager.
4) Ben Te’o
It was Te’o’s consistent form at Irish side Leinster that first brought the player to the attention of England coach Eddie Jones, and since then Te’o has quietly gone about his work for current club Worcester Warriors.
However, with Warriors lacking in stability – with former director of rugby Dean Ryan leaving before the season started and more coaching changes taking place over the course of the year – the club’s form has fluctuated this year and it finds itself quickly being dragged into a relegation battle.
Such situations are a test of one’s character and one’s dedication to a team, but now 30 Te’o has little time to prove to Eddie Jones that he deserves to keep his place in England’s squad with the likes of Owen Farrell, Henry Slade and more pushing him for the inside centre berth. A change of club for Te’o for next season might be in his best interests.
3) Freddie Burns
Former Gloucester fly-half Burns left the club he had been at for most of his rugby career back in 2014 with hopes of pushing for an England spot with one of rugby’s most famous clubs, Leicester Tigers.
However, a combination of prolonged injury problems and a lack of form have hindered Burns’ ambitions, and indeed it seems like the Welford Road club have struggled to get the best out of the former king of Kingsholm.
Given Richard Cockerill’s recent departure and Leicester’s woeful form of late, Burns could do well with finding a new club to settle at and establish himself as the premier fly-half there. However, with rival Owen Williams heading to Gloucester for next season, could this present Burns with the chance to finally push himself back into the England equation?
2) Ben Morgan
At tail end of 2015 Ben Morgan was a crucial cog in England’s plans and was taken to the World Cup that year despite having only recently recovered from a serious injury. Yet in 2016 Eddie Jones ousted him from his plans and although Morgan has featured in one of Jones’ training squads, he has not earnt a single cap since the Stuart Lancaster era.
Morgan’s form at current side Gloucester has been mixed since he joined back in 2012 from the Scarlets in Wales where he first became a household name in professional rugby, and a move to another Premiership club might be just the ticket to revitalise the 27-year-old’s international career.
1) Mark Wilson
Newcastle back rower Wilson has been in fine form for his club for the past few seasons and has been right at the heart of the Falcons’ improving season that has seen them rise to ninth in the Premiership table, currently 16 points ahead of basement side Bristol.
However, it seems that Newcastle players continue to get passed over for international opportunities. Many players have moved away from the club in previous seasons to further their potential test careers, and although Wilson is a Falcons man through and through, it might be his only option to finally get a chance to wear the famous white jersey.
Paul Wassell, Pundit Arena