It’s the first week back on deck for most of our Aussie Super Rugby sides, but there has been plenty of action in the off-season - here are all the ins and outs.
Three big departures for the Reds with Quade Cooper, Will Genia and James Horwill all now plying their trade in Europe. Kane Douglas is coming the other way after arriving from Irish side Leinster, although his debut will have to wait after he suffered an ACL injury in the World Cup Final. Japan star Ayumu Goromaru is the new headline act, labelled a ‘national hero’ after twice receiving man-of-the-match honours at the World Cup.
IN: Kane Douglas (Leinster), Cadeyrn Neville (Rebels), Ayumu Goromaru (Yamaha Jubilo), James Tuttle (Bond University), Lukhan Tui (Randwick), Alex Mafi (Bond University), Izack Rodda (Easts Tigers), Junior Laloifi (Sunnybank), Eto Nabuli (St George Illawarra).
OUT: Quade Cooper (Toulon), Will Genia (Stade Francais), James Horwill (Harlequins), James O’Connor (Toulon), James Hanson (Rebels), Marco Kotze (Agen), David McDuling (Sharks), Ed O’Donoghue (released), Tom Murday (Agen), Ed Quirk (released), Beau Robinson (released), Adam Thomson (Rebels), Ben Tapuai (Force), Lachlan Turner (Toulon), Sam Johnson (Glasgow).
There’s been plenty of off-season movement in Tah land too, most notably with coach Michael Cheika moving into a full-time role with the Wallabies. Adam Ashley-Cooper and Sekope Kepu have shifted to Bordeaux while plenty of back-row experience moves on, with Wycliff Palu, Jacques Potgieter and Pat McCutcheon having said their goodbyes. Backline speed is obviously the main focus for new coach Daryl Gibson, with Zac Guildford and Reece Robinson to strut their stuff at Allianz Stadium in 2016.
IN: Angus Ta’avao (Blues), Brad Wilkin (Men’s Sevens), Jim Stewart (Sydney Stars), Zac Guildford (Hawke’s Bay), Harry Jones (Sydney Stars), Reece Robinson (Parramatta Eels).
OUTS: Adam Ashley-Cooper (Bordeaux), Sekope Kepu (Bordeaux), Wycliff Palu (Toyota Verblitz), Jacques Potgieter (Sharks), Brendan McKibbin (London Irish), Taqele Naiyaravoro (Glasgow), Pat McCutcheon (Australia Sevens), Peter Betham (Leicester Tigers), Jono Lance (Force), Ben Volavola (Crusaders), Mitchell Chapman (retired), Tala Grey (Toulouse), Michael Alaalatoa (Crusaders).
The Rebels will be looking for a new captain in 2016 with Scott Higginbotham moving to Japan’s NEC Green Rockets. Luke Burgess is now in Italy after struggling for game time in 2015 while tight-head Paul Alo-Emile is in Paris for Stade Francais. Radike Samo has been released after playing just one game for the Rebels last season. Melbourne raided the Reds with James Hanson and Adam Thomson moving south, to be joined by Culum Retallick, cousin of All Blacks star Brodie.
IN: Adam Thomson (Reds), James Hanson (Reds), Culum Retallick (Blues), Sione Tuipulotu (Melbourne Rising), Ryan Cocker (Taranaki), Jamie Hagan (London Irish), Siliva Siliva (Brumbies), Rob Leota (Northern), Reece Hodge (Manly).
OUT: Scott Higginbotham (NEC Green Rockets), Luke Burgess (Zebre), Radike Samo (released), Cadeyrn Neville (Reds), Paul Alo-Emile (Stade Francais), Keita Inagaki (Panasonic Wild Knights), Tom Sexton (Force), Ben Whittaker (released), Tom Kingston (released), Bryce Hegarty (Toyota Industries Shuttles), Telusa Veainu (Leicester Tigers).
Not a whole lot of turnover for the Brumbies in the offseason with Stephen Larkham abltomas cube to keep much of his side together. Former coach Jake White has recruited hard for his new team Montpellier, with Nic White and Jesse Mogg now enjoying views of the Mediterranean rather than Lake Burley Griffin. Tomas Cubelli is the big recruit, with the Pumas scrum-half rejecting the new Argentine Super Rugby franchise to ink a two-year deal with the Brumbies.
IN: Tomas Cubelli (Belgrano), Albert Anae (Benetton Treviso), Nick Jooste (Perth Spirit), Andrew Smith (Montpellier), Aidan Toua (Agen)
OUT: Nic White (Montpellier), Jesse Mogg (Montpellier), JP Smith (Stormers), Siliva Siliva (Rebels), Fotu Auelua (released), Sean Doyle (Munster)
Michael Foley’s Force enjoyed a quiet winter compared to their Australian conference rivals, with just the four additions so far for their 2016 squad. Peter Grant finally linking with the Force after plenty of speculation in recent years, while Ben Tapuai and Jono Lance move west. Nick Cummins a notable out, he’ll stay in Japan for 2016.
IN: Peter Grant (La Rochelle), Ben Tapuai (Reds), Jono Lance (Waratahs), Richie Arnold (Queensland Country) Semisi Masirewa (Manawatu)
OUT: Wilhelm Steenkamp (Brive), Sam Wykes (Coca-Cola West Red Sparks), Sias Ebersohn (Cheetahs), Zack Holmes (La Rochelle), Nick Cummins (Coca-Cola West Red Sparks), Mitchell Scott (Tasman), Akihito Yamada (Panasonic Wild Knights)