Ahead of the 2018-19 Guinness PRO14 campaign, Ultimate Rugby select a starting XV of the most high-profile signings completed ahead of the new season.
- Clayton Blommetjies – Scarlets
The signing of the South African fullback may have gone under the radar for many but it really is a coup for the Welsh region. After a snubbing by the Springboks, Blommetjies has set his sights on playing test rugby for Wales. He ripped it up in the Pro 14 last season for the Scarlets, putting in a number of MOTM performances.
He is a 15 in the mould of former Cheetah, Willie Le Roux, creating many opportunities for his teammates on the counter-attack. He will be a welcome addition to an already scintillating Scarlets back three. Pivac will have a real head-scratcher when trying to select his starting wingers and fullback next season.
- George North – Ospreys
The former Lions test winger makes his return to Wales after an abysmal season with Northampton Saints that was marred by internal clashes with management.
He will look to reclaim the form that he had at Scarlets, which took him straight to the top and has earned him 76 caps for Wales and 3 Lions test caps in 2013. He will slot onto the wing after the departures of Eli Walker, Dafydd Howells and Jeff Hassler.
- Joe Tomane – Leinster
Leinster have signed the former Wallaby in an attempt to replace the irreplaceable Isa Nacewa. He was TOP14 runner up with Montpellier last season and often filled the outside centre position, with Nagusa and Nadolo on the wings. He won all of his caps for Australia on the wing so if Leinster do need him to slot in at 11 or 14 he will be more than capable.
- Kyle Godwin – Connacht
The Zimbabwean-born centre and playmaker is currently playing in Super Rugby for the Brumbies, having previously represented the Western Force before their exit from the competition. The Canberra-based side have struggled in recent times but that most definitely is not down to the former wonderkid who has been deployed at inside centre.
With rumours of Quade Cooper joining the Canberra based side, which would lead to Lealifano moving into the centre role, this looks to be an intelligent move for the 25-year-old.
- Jordan Williams – Dragons
The young winger that lit up the U20 world stage a few years ago returns to Wales following a stint in England with Bristol. He returns with hopes of making it into the Welsh international setup and joins a Dragons side that are looking like they will be a different animal next season, after additional investment has led to a plethora of impressive signings.
A goal-kicking fullback, who made his home on the wing for Bristol, he will hopefully help the Dragons to threaten the try-line a lot more, which was a real problem for them last season.
- Joey Carbery – Munster
The move that is considered by many to be the biggest of the season, still makes the blood of many Leinster fans boil. There can be no doubt that Munster need an out-half and that Carbery will get more game-time at stand-off in the south of the country.
All that needs to be proven is that the youngster has the temperament to make it as a first choice first-five and that he can become accustomed to the style of play in Limerick. His partnership with Conor Murray will make that transition a whole lot easier and hopefully we will see him blossom into the kind of out-half that Joe Schmidt thinks he will.
- Sam Hidalgo-Clyne – Scarlets
This one has perplexed many as the Scarlets seem to be fairly well-equipped at nine, with Welsh international Gareth Davies tearing it up for them there last season. He is joined in the ranks by some young halfbacks that look to have bright futures ahead of them.
It will be interesting to see how Wayne Pivac incorporates them all into his plans next season. Will we see the young Scot plying his trade in another position, as we have in the past? He has proven himself to be an adept stand-off, fullback and wing and he may have to become accustomed to that again if he is going to challenge for a starting spot.
- Uzair Cassiem - Scarlets
With Tadhg Beirne heading across the water to Munster, Scarlets fans will welcome the signing of a new ball carrying loose forward. He has compared Scarlets gameplan to that that he was familiar with at the Cheetahs but has also outlined that he comes to Wales with the clear goal of winning some silverware. If he can slot seamlessly into a side packed full of Wales internationals, he may be in with a shout of adding to his 8 Springbok caps.
- Jordi Murphy - Ulster
With competition in the Leinster back-row trumping most international sides, it is no wonder that the Barcelona born, Irish international has been shipped north for more game time. Joe Schmidt doesn’t seem to have lost confidence in him, even though he had fallen out of favour at the European Champions.
Ulster will welcome the addition of a physical back-rower, as they really struggled in the pack last season. Look for him to push for an Irish starting spot if Ulster can turn their poor form around.
- Ross Moriarty – Dragons
Another of the Dragons major signings, which really shows their intent to drive on and stop being the whipping boys of the Welsh sides. The 2017 Lion is a monster in the loose and was very unfortunate to become injured on the New Zealand Summer Tour, when he was representing the home nations.
He was an outside pick for a starting test jersey by some, showing the quality he possesses, excelling on the toughest tour in world rugby. He will likely take the number 8 jersey for the Dragons, which will enable him to showcase his hard-carrying abilities, helping them over the gainline, giving their backs the opportunity to shine.
- Blade Thomson - Scarlets
The Scarlets’ scouts deserve a bonus for their work in advance of next season. Again, they’ve pulled it out of the bag with this one. Thomson missed last season as he underwent shoulder reconstruction surgery but had been a mainstay in the Hurricanes squad for the couple of years beforehand.
He is equally adept in the back row as at lock, which means he may be the perfect replacement for Tadhg Beirne. A former junior world cup champion, with a keen eye for the whitewash, look for him to get over for a few five-pointers next season.
- Tadhg Beirne – Munster
This is potentially the signing of the summer, with Munster nabbing Scarlets’ player of the season from last year. The second row, who can cover the flanks and number 8 as well, was nominated for European Player of the year, given his immense performances in the Champions Cup competition.
He has just made his test debut on Ireland’s summer tour and didn’t sell himself short at all. His fantastic offloading, carrying and tackling will be a great addition to the Munster setup, not to mention his ability to gain turnovers for his side. He will fill the void left by Donnacha Ryan, which was most definitely not filled last season.
- Dmitri Arhip – Cardiff Blues
The Moldovan international is a renowned scrummager and will be a welcome replacement for the retiring Taufa’ao Filise. With 90 caps for the Ospreys in the past 6 seasons, his quality cannot be questioned. At just 29 years old, he may be just coming into his prime as a tighthead prop. It will be interesting to see if he can make the starting XV in a stacked front row.
- Richard Hibbard - Dragons
The 2013 Lions series winner has fallen out of favour within the Welsh international setup but he still packs a punch and can offer a lot of experience to the young Dragons side. His best years may be behind him but one can’t help but think that he may be attempting to get his foot in the door and add to his 38 caps with this move back to Wales. He returns after a semi-successful spell at Gloucester, where he helped them to qualify for next season’s Champions Cup.
- Pierre Schoeman - Edinburgh
The former South African schoolboy is one of the lesser known of this year’s signings. He joins Edinburgh on a three-year contract, following a couple of seasons with the Bulls. At just 24 years old, he may be looking to follow the path of WP Nel and turn out for the Scottish test side, later down the road.