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Club-By-Club Guide To The Aviva Premiership Transfers During The Summer

Not every club has made the most of this summer to strengthen their squads before the start of this year’s Aviva Premiership season.

Many stars such as Kurtley Beale and Louis Picamoles have left certain teams with huge gaps to fill. Have they managed to plug the gaps or have they been left with huge Picamoles-sized voids in their squads?

Here is a club-by-club guide to how each side is shaping up as the season arrives.

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Bath

The main headline is of course the straight swap between Freddie Burns and George Ford.

How much will Bath lose? Probably not too much judging on Burns’ blistering form toward the tail end of Leicester’s season.

Furthermore, Bath will not lose Burns to international duty.

Elsewhere, Sam Underhill is a huge acquisition, who will add some bite to a back row that is starting to look world class.

Best buy: Sam Underhill

Biggest Loss: George Ford

Still Need: A ball career in the tight five.

Transfer success: 5.5/10

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Exeter Chiefs

The champions have made three particularly interesting buys on the market.

Matt Kvesic will have to work hard to usurp Julian Salvi for the 7 shirt but he can be a game changer.

Nic White is a very clever bit of business. A spikey scrum-half who brings a splash of Australian edge and competitiveness, he will help the talented duo of Jack Maunder and Will Chudley reach new heights.

The one to watch out for is Tom O’Flaherty from Ospreys. A star at the Singha 7’s, O’Flaherty scored some incredible solo tries and could really challenge Woodburn and James Short for a second wing berth.

Best Buy: Nic White

Biggest Loss: Geoff Parling

Still Need: A fly half to back up Steenson when Slade is on international duty.

Transfer Success: 6.5/10

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Gloucester

Some reinforcements in the front row are much needed in the form of Rapava Ruskin, Fraser Balmain and Gareth Denman were added to the West Country side.

A drop of youth to support the older campaigners John Afoa and Josh Hohneck added to the quality of the squad.

In the backs, the versatility of both Owen Williams and Jason Woodward will give David Humphreys options all along the back line.

Unfortunately, they have lost experienced leaders in the squad such as Greig Laidlaw, James Hook and Paul Doran-Jones.

Best Buy: Jason Woodward

Biggest Loss: Greig Laidlaw

Still Need: A Winger to replace Jonny May.

Transfer Success: 6/10

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Harlequins

Apart from the great Nick Evans leaving, Harlequins have done some seriously good business over the summer. Francis Saili was one of the best players in the Pro12 last season for Munster.

His partnership with the newly acquired Demetri Catrakilis and Jamie Roberts could prove that life after Evans is not so bad.

Munster Rugby Squad Training, UL, Limerick 3/8/2016 Francis Saili Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Renaldo Bothma is a piece of prime Namibian beef who will run straight and very hard.

Finally, Dave Lewis and Phil Swainston will provide excellent back up for England players when they leave on international duty.

Best Buy: Francis Saili

Biggest Loss: Nick Evans

Still Need: One more lock to add to the ranks.

Transfer Success: 9/10

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Leicester Tigers

There are some seriously big names departing Welford Road: JP Pietersen, Peter Betham, Freddie Burns, Owen Williams and the promising Jack Roberts have all left.

Quality still remains though. Jonny May’s arrival will make up for the loss of Betham and Pietersen. If Manu Tuilagi can stay fit and combine with George Ford attacking the line flat, then there could be hope still.

Sione Kalamafoni could be a great impact player off the bench and Dominick Ryan is a hard-nosed flanker who will embody the intensity of the Tigers culture. One negative, the squad seems a little thin.

Best Buy: George Ford

Biggest Loss: Owen Williams

Still Need: Another centre if Tuilagi and Toomua get injured.

Transfer Success: 5.5/10

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London Irish

Newly-promoted sides struggle without wholesale changes. London Irish have recognised this.

The internationally capped duo of Gordon Reid and Manasa Saulo along with Saracens veteran Petrus du Plessis will hopefully give Irish a stable platform from which to attack in the front row.

On top of this, hooker Saia Fainga’a has 36 caps for Australia.

Napolioni Nalaga’s destructive presence will take some of the pressure off Alex Lewington and Luke Mclean will be a calming presence.

If the new faces can assimilate quickly, it would seem Irish are headed in the right direction.

Best Buy: Gordon Reid

Biggest Loss: Luke Narraway

Still Need: An experienced openside to slow ball down.

Transfer Success: 8/10

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Newcastle Falcons

The Falcons could have a seriously potent back line this season. Toby Flood, Maxime Mermoz and DTH Van der Merwe will add a bit of stardust to a workmanlike back division.

My concern is that Tevita Cavubati is the only new face of note in their pack. One more big name could help them crack the top four.

Best Buy: Maxime Mermoz

Biggest Loss: Marcus Watson

Still Need: A World Class tight head and back up for Nili Latu.

Transfer Success: 7.5/10

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Northampton Saints

How the Saints will miss the great Louis Picamoles. It’s not all doom and gloom though.

Piers Francis had some moments of magic in Argentina for England and looks a classy operator. Also, Rob Horne and Cobus Reinach are high level Super Rugby players and if they can adapt quickly, could be revelations in the Premiership.

Jamal Ford-Robinson could be the Saints answer to Ellis Genge or Kyle Sinckler as a dynamic prop who loves punching holes around the fringes.

Best Buy: Piers Francis

Biggest Loss: Louis Picamoles

Still Need: A world class ball carrier in the pack.

Transfer Success: 7/10

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Sale Sharks

Faf de Klerk is my buy of the summer.

He could single-handedly change the speed and tempo that Sale play at. James O’Connor is a less convincing purchase.

While he is a big name, he has been out of form of late and can be erratic. Josh Strauss and Jono Ross will add some serious grunt and muscle to the back-row.

It’s good to see a changing of the guard with players such as Mike Phillips, Peter Stringer and Brian Mujati making away for some new blood

Best Buy: Faf de Klerk

Biggest Loss: Kieran Longbottom

Still Need: Another loosehead.

Transfer Success: 7.5/10

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Saracens

Chris Ashton leaving was a huge loss – then Liam Williams joined and Ashton was forgotten. In other areas Sarries are cultivating perhaps the most intimidating bench in the Premiership with the signing of behemoths Will Skelton and Christopher Tolofua.

Every Premiership side will be shuddering at the thought of those two entering the fray at 65 minutes.

Callum Clark will fill the void left by Kelly Brown, showing that Mark McCall has plugged any deficiencies in his squad brilliantly.

Best Buy: Liam Williams

Biggest Loss: Chris Ashton

Still Need: A back up fly half when Owen Farrell and Alex Lozowski play for England.

Transfer Success: 8/10

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Wasps

As with Louis Picamoles, some good business cannot make up for the loss of Kurtley Beale. Juan de Jongh has over 30 caps for South Africa and an Olympic 7s medal for a reason.

Equally, Gabriele Lovabalavu will give Wasps an added dimension, some Fijian beef to compliment all the skill and finesse surrounding him.

But Marcus Watson could be one of the most underrated purchases of the transfer period. Overshadowed by his brother Anthony, if Marcus can over take Josh Basset in the pecking order he could benefit from Wasps free scoring brand of rugby.

Best Buy: Marcus Watson

Biggest Loss: Kurtley Beale

Still Need: An impact prop to carry hard after 65 minutes.

Transfer Success: 6.5/10

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Worcester

It’s not pretty down at Sixways.

Some of Worcester’s consistent performers such as Val Rapava-Ruskin, Tevita Cavubati, Phil Dowson and Cooper Vuna have all moved on. Unfortunately the names brought in do not invite excitement or assurance that these holes will be plugged.

Ethan Waller is a solid scrummager and will happily play 80 minutes. David Denton when on form can be a very useful number eight, but he has struggled to find form over the last two seasons.

Apart from that it all looks rather bleak. The squad itself has done well to hang on to Ben Te’o, Bryce Heem and Francois Hougaard.

Best Buy: Ethan Waller

Biggest Loss: Val Rapava-Ruskin

Still Need: A top class hooker and a replacement for Rapava-Ruskin.

Transfer Success: 4/10

 

Max Hamid, Pundit Arena

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Author: The PA Team

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