As the season moves on, the number of new signings around the Gallagher Premiership being announced is only going to increase.
We have already seen a few big-name additions, with Exeter Chiefs wrapping up a deal for Stuart Hogg to join the club after the Rugby World Cup, Nathan Hughes heading to Bristol Bears and Northampton Saints managing to get the signature of versatile Hurricanes back Matt Proctor.
We’ve rounded up some of the biggest names to be coming off contract this season in the competition and assessed their likely destinations for the 2019/20 season.
Continue reading below…
Watch: The Rugby Pod discuss some of the big signings that could be made this season in the Premiership.
At the same time Wasps announced Hughes’ departure for Bristol, they also confirmed that South African full-back le Roux would be leaving the club, too. His exit has been rumoured for a while now, with the Springbok back in favour under Rassie Erasmus and potentially looking at moves away from England with the upcoming RWC.
He has been linked with franchises back in South Africa, but the leading interest at the moment seems to be coming from Japan, despite uncertainty over the 2019/20 Top League season due to the presence of the RWC in the country. The Wasps man spent two seasons with the Canon Eagles, who are now being coached by Allister Coetzee, whilst Jake White, who leads Toyota Verblitz, is also believed to be in the mix.
Likely destination: Toyota Verblitz
One of the more up-in-the-air transfer sagas of the season, with Joseph coveted by Bristol, Northampton Saints, Leicester Tigers and his own club Bath. Bath seem confident they can keep him, with the club having recently issued him a new contract offer, per SomersetLive, but the external interest in him is significant.
Saints have held talks with the centre, but their interest may be limited due to arrival of Proctor, as well as the impressive performances of the 19-year-old Fraser Dingwall, who has quickly risen to 65 on the RPI, already making him the 11th highest ranked outside centre in the Premiership. To bring them both in, unless Chris Boyd sees Proctor somewhere other than 13, seems extravagant. Leicester’s interest will hinge on the future of Manu Tuilagi and this could be another signing that Bristol are in the box-seat to complete.
Likely destination: Bristol Bears or Bath
Manu Tuilagi, Leicester Tigers
Speaking of Tuilagi, the England centre is in the final year of his current deal at Tigers and the Leicester management now have a tricky decision to make over his future. A fit Tuilagi is worth every penny of the money they have paid him over the last few years, but his struggle to stay fit during that period would understandably make the club nervous about handing out another big deal his way.
If he leaves and stays fit, they will look like they have made an error, but equally, if he stays and continues to battle injury problems, they will look just as bad. Premiership interest is limited given the mix of salary expectations and injury issues, but there are multiple teams in France believed to be keen to take a flier on the 27-year-old. One of the more prominent whispers is that Toulon are particularly keen to bring Tuilagi in, with Mathieu Bastareaud likely to head off for a stint in Japan.
Likely destination: Leicester Tigers or Toulon
Waves were sent around the Premiership when Worcester pulled off the coup of signing Te’o from Leinster back in 2016, but unfortunately for the Warriors it has not turned out as successfully as they would have liked. His ability for Leinster and the reported £500k salary had Worcester fans excited about the potential of their team with Te’o at the heart of it, but injuries and international duties have limited the centre to just 28 appearances for the club to date.
The England international turns 32 later this month and realistically his prospects in the England side beyond the RWC look limited. Similar to Tuilagi, the wages and injury history have put off some Premiership clubs, but there is interest from both France and Japan for the former rugby league man’s services.
Likely destination: France
Elliot Daly, Wasps
Daly actually has another season of his current contract to serve with Wasps, but that has not stopped the speculation that he is off to Saracens this season. He is another high-profile member of the current exodus from Wasps that seems to be going on.
Given that multiple RugbyPass sources have confirmed it, as well as the scope with which it has been reported in other outlets, it suggests it is just a matter of when, not if, Daly makes the move south to Saracens and joins a back line already boasting Alex Goode, Liam Williams and Owen Farrell.
Likely destination: Saracens
Rhys Priestland, Bath
Bath have already confirmed that the 50-cap Welshman will be leaving at the end of the season, with the club keen to reshape their playing squad over the coming seasons. The fly-half has shown that he is still a very adept operator at the Premiership level, however, and is unlikely to be short of suitors.
RugbyPass understand that there is interest in the 31-year-old from England and France, whilst he could certainly still add something to the playing squads of the Welsh regions, should he want to return to his homeland for one final stint.
Likely destination: France
One of the more surprising transfer stories of this season is that former England U20 captain Clifford could leave Quins. Yet, that is looking increasing likely to happen, as the Twickenham-based club look set to clear out a number of relatively high earners on their roster, with Luke Wallace, Charlie Walker and Dave Ward among the others likely bound for new clubs.
Clifford has been in talks with Exeter and whilst there was some speculation that they would struggle to fit him in under the salary cap, there is growing talk that the interest is genuine and that the versatile back rower could become the latest flanker to try and revitalise their career at Sandy Park.
Likely destination: Exeter Chiefs
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