Following a successful 2016, the New Zealand Rugby Union will anxiously be looking ahead to 2017, as they try and keep some of their most talented players out of the clutches of European clubs.
Already there have been reports connecting Ben Smith, Israel Dagg, Aaron Cruden and Malakai Fekitoa with moves to the northern hemisphere, as Europe’s leading clubs look to bolster their squads ahead of the 2017/18 season.
Although the above quartet of players have yet to make a decision over their futures, one player who will definitely be leaving New Zealand next summer is Charlie Faumuina.
After a great deal of speculation, the tighthead’s move to Toulouse was confirmed by the Top 14 club on Twitter.
— Stade Toulousain (@StadeToulousain) December 28, 2016
While Faumuina’s raw size and power are attributes suited to the physicality of the Top 14, Toulouse didn’t confirm the length of his contract, opening the possibility of the tighthead signing for a single season before returning to New Zealand in time for the 2019 World Cup.
In any event, conformation of Faumuina’s move will do little to quell the anxiety felt within NZRU, as they battle to keep hold of their star players.
On this week’s edition of the Oval Office Podcast, we speak to Jamie Roberts and look ahead at the festive fixture list.
Alan Drumm, Pundit Arena