One of the most enjoyable things about following a sport is seeing how that new or exciting player fares when he’s called into the fray.
Whether you’ve seen him in action for another club or if he’s an unknown quantity, there’s something special when you see that signing take the field.
One such player is Englishman James Haskell, who despite being a great international has produced mixed performances so far; another is the Frenchman Freddie Michalak; who proves week after week that not all Frenchmen should be known for their inconsistency.
These two players have got me thinking, who do I want to see don a Super Rugby jersey?
The bustling American Todd Clever did it. Why can’t other “minnow nation” players do it?
For that matter wouldn’t some of the up-and-comers from traditional rugby nations benefit from Super Rugby experience?
So, to appease my curiosity this armchair expert has jotted down an XV of the players I’d love to see play in our great tournament.
1. Soane Tonga’uiha (Tonga)
Northampton’s monumental prop is known as much for his size as he is for his bullocking runs. Soane missed out in his first attempt to play Super Rugby but as a new man with international experience he’d cut the mustard.
2. Yusuke Aoki (Japan)
The diminutive, but hard-working, hooker was a highlight in Japan’s World Cup campaign and would be perfect for the quick pace of Super Rugby. It’s time to break the mould of Japanese-born players playing exclusively in Japan and Aoki could be the first.
3. Tom Court (Ireland)
This Aussie-born man-mountain has certainly taken to the Irish Rugby and way of life, but would he perform on home soil? He’s another who just missed out on Super Rugby his first time around and would no doubt relish a second shot.
4. Julio Farías Cabello (Argentina)
The big hustling flanker/lock was a stand out for Argentina in the World Cup with his huge tackle counts. He knows how to defend and would no doubt stand out as much in Super Rugby as he will in this year’s Rugby Championship.
5. Joe Tekori (samoa)
Did anybody say Super Rugby doesn’t have enough goose-stepping second rowers? Tekori is capable of doing both the basics of being in the tight five, as well as bringing that X-factor.
6. Mamuka Gorgodze (Georgia)
A Georgian mightn’t be as marketable as a Fijian-flier, but fans would certainly come around to the now-famous Gorgodzilla’s style of rugby. Capable of covering second row and the entire back-row he’d be an asset to any team.
7. Michael Leitch (Japan)
The young New Zealand-born but Japanese-raised opensider impressed at the World Cup. Leitch is a kind of rare on-baller seven that any side needs and would no doubt come at a fraction of the price.
8. Robert Barbieri (Italy)
The Italian knows how to run the ball. And he runs hard. Trapped behind Parisse in the Italian line-up for a few years the Canadian born player has recently come to the fore by showing his ability to play 7. If you love how Jarred Saffy plays you’ll love Barbieri.
9. Ben Spencer (England)
Rising to prominence through his success in the Oxford-Cambridge Varsity game, Spencer has a big future. He’s still young and can do the number one thing a halfback needs to do: create fast-accurate ball. No doubt he’ll crack the England squad soon.
10. Duncan Weir (Scotland)
Having just picked up his first Scottish cap, Duncan has a build that wouldn’t look out of place on a modern-day hooker. Still, he’s electric with ball in hand and will no doubt grow as he gets more time in Scotland’s colours. A year or two of Super Rugby wouldn’t hurt a player like Weir at all.
11. Simon Zebo (Ireland)
Many thought the Munsterman would gain his first cap this Six Nations but alas it didn’t happen. Possessing speed to burn and a great understanding of the game, this man wouldn’t look out of place in any Super outfit.
12. Albert VuliVuli (Fiji)
Some backs like to dance around people; VuliVuli likes to dance through people. The Fijian of Queensland Reds experience is one of those rare players that make damaging runs look so natural. Can play across the backline.
13. Tommaso Benvenuti (Italy)
This Italian-born-and-bred back is proving to be one of the great victories of Italy’s development system. He has the footwork and hands to be a world rugby great and Italy’s on-field improvement can already be partly attributed to him at just 21 years old.
14. D.T.H. van der Merwe (Canada)
The Canadian with the bottle-blonde hair proved in this World Cup that he can match it with the best of them in the centre. He would no doubt look at home doing the finishing in any Super Rugby outfit.
15. James So’oialo (Samoa)
Younger brother of famous All Black Rodney, James sports an equally notable haircut in the form of a mullet. James has just been involved in the terrific Samoan World Cup Campaign and shows the kind of decision-making and swagger you love to see from a fullback.
Who would you like to see play Super Rugby?
How do you think these guys would go?