2016 biggest storylines: Global player routes

International
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

As 2016 ticks down, rugby.com.au is looking back at some of the biggest moments and storylines of the Australian rugby year.

NUMBER EIGHT

Global player routes

Player poaching is one of the biggest threats to Australian rugby and the Wallabies but it went both ways this season.

European clubs won over Aussies for a variety of reasons, Matt Toomua and Joe Tomane the first to sign away from home after the World Cup, before Kurtley Beale also confirmed a departure to Wasps early in 2016.

Greg Holmes will spend his final rugby years in Exeter while Liam Gill, though not a regular Test starter, was signed with Toulon by the end of the Super Rugby season and in France before Spring Tour began.

Will Genia was in and out of the Wallabies outfit after opting to move to Stade Francais for the start of the 2015-16 season, becoming the sole overseas Wallaby standing by the end of the season.

The strength of the pound and Euro offers salaries that none in Australia could compete with, particularly in a year marked by the game’s financial struggles.

The growth of global rugby movement has impacted all the major rugby nations heavily and even countries like Fiji, whose expats Australia has much to be thankful for, and the next challenge is to stave off the attraction of cash for something hopefully more powerful.

That the Wallabies were able to retain lock Rory Arnold after reportedly massive offers coming from Toulon was a major boost for the sentimental lure of a Test jersey, with the mammoth second rower committing to the ARU and Brumbies until 2019.

Northern Hemisphere defections weren’t the only movements to dominate the headlines, though.

Jarryd Hayne’s highly publicised switch to rugby sevens fizzled out by the time final Olympic squads were culled and he was back in the NRL by the end of the year, after a brief dalliance with the idea of signing with the Waratahs.

The Rebels, though, pulled off a sneaky steal of their own, nabbing Marika Koroibete from their neighbours, the Melbourne Storm, adding to a mouthwatering backline for 2017.

Australia’s women’s sevens have managed to attract women’s rugby league players since their inception, offering a full-time program before any other contact code could along with the lure of being part of an, ultimately gold medal-winning, Olympic campaign.

A more low-key league to union switch, or return, came in Perth with Bulldogs rising star Curtis Rona heading home to the Force, after a scintillating early start to his NRL career.

Lachlan Maranta’s move to the Reds was described by Greg Martin as the ‘worst ever’, but it’s a criticism he isn’t fazed by, after joining former Broncos Academy star Caleb Timu in the Ballymore squad.

The global player market has never been more fluid, and rugby has to stay ahead of the curve.

2016 Top 10 biggest story lines look back

Number 10 : Sydney Bledisloe

Number 9: Wallabies' generation next

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