As the Super Rugby league enters the knockout stages and the season nears its end, for some big names of southern hemisphere rugby, it will be their last as they strike out for new adventures in Europe.
The riches that await in the Top 14, Aviva Premiership and the Pro12 make for very enticing propositions to stars of the south who are willing to make the difficult decision of turning their back on the chance to represent their national side.
However, many are doing just that, be it for a new challenge or because their international careers have ended. Over the last number of seasons, the like of Ma’a Nonu, Dan Carter, Jean de Villiers, Isa Nacewa and Doug Howlett are just some of those who made the trip north.
Ahead of the new European season, set to kick off in the next month or so, a new bumper crop of big names from Super Rugby will make their way to clubs across the three top leagues.
With upwards of 20 players making the jump, a quick glance reveals a massive depth of talent and quality, with notable inclusions being as follows:
Perhaps the biggest name to enter the European rugby cauldron this summer, the 50 times capped All Black will link up with Montpellier once the Super Rugby season ends.
With his international opportunities having been somewhat curtailed by the brilliance of Beauden Barrett in recent seasons, the 28-year-old Cruden has decided to undertake a new adventure in France’s Top 14.
Another All Black on his way to France is Tawera Kerr-Barlow. The La Rochelle bound scrum-half has, like his Chiefs teammate Cruden, chosen to leave for the Top 14 and Champions Cup rugby next season.
The Rugby World Cup winner is set to be a huge addition for the ever-improving French side, which, having topped the table for much of last season, came up short in the play-offs.
The Maori All Black is one of the biggest names to join the Pro12 ranks next season as he swaps the Chiefs for Leinster, a move that has many a fan of the blue province more than a little excited.
The dynamic winger is expected to light up the scoreboard for the Dublin-based side as they bid to return to the summit of the European rugby pile next season, a perch they have attained three times in the past.
The imposing Australian is also set to join up with Leinster this summer, having decided to leave the Brumbies in search of new adventures.
The forward, who can scrum down in either the second or back row, will be a huge addition to Leinster. With a front row that includes two British and Irish Lions, Fardy’s inclusion will give the pack some serious teeth ahead of the new season.
The explosive All Blacks centre confirmed on Thursday that he is to leave the Highlanders for the riches of Toulon, where he will link up with fellow New Zealand centre Ma’a Nonu.
A serious talent and an All Black with real pedigree, the 25-year-old has already gotten a taste of European rugby this summer when he was called up to the All Blacks side that faced the British and Irish Lions earlier this month.
The French giants and former European kingpins are doing some serious rebuilding this summer as they look to overthrow Saracens and reclaim their title as Europe’s top side.
The monstrous Australian has decided to trade the Waratahs for Saracens next season, following a loan spell with the Aviva Premiership champions last season.
As if the European Champions didn’t need any more firepower, the addition of the 6′ 8″, 22-stone giant will add even more ball carrying options to the London-based club.
Faf de Klerk
The Springbok scrum-half will join Aviva Premiership side Sale Sharks this summer, having left the Lions after one season.
The powerful 25-year-old is a solid addition to the English outfit, where his attacking mentality should see him thrive in his new surroundings.
As revenue continues to increase in the top European leagues, the influx of southern hemisphere talent will also continue.
While southern hemisphere bosses may well grumble and lament the exodus of some of their top players, in the business of sport, money talks.
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