The 2021/22 Premiership season started last weekend and many of the league’s new stars were on show. It has been a busy summer transfer window in the Premiership with Worcester, Northampton, Wasps and Leicester among others spending big and making headlines with new recruits. This gave me the perfect idea to rank my favourite 5 of all these summer signings. There is no metric for this list, nor any significant rationale, it is simply my personal favourite 5 signings and how excited i am to watch them in England. If you are reading this, list your 5 favourite signings in the comments below this post.
Honourable Mentions I feel it’s necessary to mention a few underrated signings which may have flown under many people’s radars. Wasps signed former Saracens winger Ali Crossdale who has incredible potential and has looked extremely dangerous in all of his Saracens appearances. He has already been named in an England squad and i wouldn’t be surprised if he is near the top of the try scorers list this season if he gets game time. Northampton among many other quality signings this summer have signed Number 8 Juarno Agustus from the Stormers. At just 23 years of age he was one of their stronger players so expect him to make an impact on the Premiership. Finally Worcester signed Wales hooker Scott Baldwin from Quins, a very underrated player who will significantly improve their pack.
5. Courtnall Skosan
Northampton Saints had arguably the best summer transfer window and this was the highlight. Capped 12 times for South Africa, Skosan is an immensely exciting signing. He scored 38 tries in 84 games in Super Rugby for the Lions from 2014-2021, a strike rate of 0.45 tries per game and in the Currie Cup in the same period he scored 22 tries in 40 games, a strike rate of 0.55 tries per game. In 2021 so far (for club) he is averaging 3.5m per carry and has beaten 14 defenders, compared to the top wingers in the Premiership, Anthony Watson is averaging 5m per carry and has beaten 12 defenders and Louis Rees Zammit 4.7m per carry and 8 defenders beaten. There is no doubt that Skosan is a top tier winger and because he is no longer in the South Africa international set up, Saints will get their moneys worth by having him all season. For this reason i believe he is a shoe-in to be at the top of the try scorers list come the end of the season.
4. Huw Jones
Harlequins have demonstrated a masterclass on how to follow up a Premiership winning season. After signing Nick David and Italy international Tommy Allan they secured Scotland star Huw Jones, who was on the verge of signing for Pro D2 club Bayonne but pulled out of the contract to move to London. Jones is a deadly attacker from outside centre, he has scored 12 tries in 30 games for Scotland and scored 12 tries in 49 games for Glasgow. In 2021 for Glasgow he averaged 3.7m per carry and beat 8 defenders, compared to the top centres in the Premiership Semi Radradra averages 4m per carry and has beaten 5 defenders while Joe Marchant averages 4.1m per carry and has beaten 26 defenders. Jones is a scary attacking weapon and will also add much needed depth to a Harlequins back line that may be short during international periods, with Smith, Esterhuizen and Marchant possibly unavailable.
3. Duhan Van Der Merwe
Probably the most high profile, blockbuster of all the 2021 Premiership signings, Duhan is fresh off of being crowned top try scorer of the 2021 Six Nations and a subsequent Lions tour in which he started all 3 tests. The Scottish winger’s stats very much speak for themself, he scored 5 tries in 5 games in the Six Nations and has 8 tries in 10 total caps for Scotland, a strike rate of 0.8 tries per game. He also scored 32 tries in 67 games over 4 seasons for Edinburgh. In the Six Nations he beat 19 defenders and ran for 142 metres while Anthony Watson beat 10 defenders and ran for 191 metres and Louis Rees Zammit beat 3 defenders and ran for 150 metres. Duhan’s balance of speed and destructive power and size makes him currently one of the best wingers in the world, however, his impact on Worcester, the team who finished bottom last season, scoring just 39 tries, will be fascinating. I don’t doubt Duhan will be as destructive as always however the decision to sign him for a team that usually plays with 2 crash ball centres, Venter and Lawrence, and no secondary ball handler is slightly perplexing.
2. Vaea Fifita
A signing i am unduly excited about, Fifita is a combo lock/flanker from the Hurricanes in New Zealand who will make a massive impact on Wasps. With Jack Willis and Joe Launchbury out for the start of the season and Will Rowlands off to Wales, Wasps required depth and quality at 5/6 and have it in Fifita. He is a powerful runner with surprising speed for his position as well as a strong defender and safe lineout option. Fifita spent 7 seasons with the Hurricanes playing 69 times and has been capped 11 times for New Zealand, scoring 2 international tries. In the year 2020 he made 1.8m per carry and had a 79% tackle success rate, compare this to his new teammate Joe Launchbury who made 1.1m per carry and had a 96% tackle success rate. Fifita is a pure athlete at lock who offers shades of Ardie Savea and Akira Ioane, he will add a significant amount of flair to the Premiership.
1. Adam Hastings
The clear winner of this list in my opinion. Hastings is still very much in the Scottish international set up as their second choice 10 behind Lion Finn Russell. Although this means he may miss time in the Autumn and Six Nations it is also an assurance of his quality. He scored 385 points in 48 games over 4 seasons for Glasgow and att just 24 years of age he has already racked up 23 caps for Scotland, scoring 4 tries and 98 total points. His goalkicking is not his strong point, sitting at around a 70% success rate, however, his general attacking game is superb. In 2021 so far he has made 4 clean line breaks and 9 try assists, compare this to AJ MacGinty who has made 1 clean line break and 13 try assists and Marcus Smith who has made 8 clean line breaks 15 try assists. Hastings is an exciting mix of quality and untapped potential and no doubt a shrewd piece of business by Gloucester who will savour the injection they will get from Hastings after years of underachieving. I whole-heartedly believe that, if he can stay fit, Hastings will get Gloucester over this hump and this will not only be great to watch, to see him link with the likes of Rees Zammit and Carrerras, but will also make the top 8 race extremely interesting.