new faces

Here’s who the Pro12 clubs have signed for the 2016/17 season

There will be some excellent new players in the league in the upcoming campaign.

WITH THE 206/17 Guinness Pro12 campaign now just over four weeks away, the 12 competing clubs are hard at work in pre-season.

We’ve rounded up the new additions to each of the Pro12 squads so far this summer.


Powerhouse number eight Nick Williams has left Irish shores for the Welsh capital club, with the exciting out-half/fullback Matthew Morgan joining him after two seasons in England with Bristol.

Francis Saili and Nick Williams pray at the final whistle James Crombie / INPHO Nick Williams has moved to Cardiff. James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

Morgan is not the only Wales international returning to his native land from England, with loosehead prop Rhys Gill a good signing for the Blues from Saracens.

Hooker Kirby Myhill, out-half Steven Shingler, and South African lock George Earle all join from the Scarlets, while Willis Halaholo is perhaps the most interesting signing of all for Cardiff.

The 26-year-old Kiwi centre has been impressive across 13 appearances for the Hurricanes in Super Rugby this season and will add linebreaking ability when he arrives in Wales in October or November, following Waikato’s Mitre 10 Cup campaign. A three-year deal means Halaholo could qualify to play for Wales under current residency rules.


The reigning champions have not recruited extensively, with once-capped Springbok out-half Marnitz Boshoff coming in after the departure of AJ MacGinty to Sale Sharks.

Outside centre Eoin Griffin returns to his native province following two frustrating years with London Irish. Versatile back Cian Kelleher is another who provides Pat Lam with options behind the scrum, having joined from Leinster on a two-year deal.

24-year-old tighthead prop Conor Carey is an interesting addition, having initially come through Ulster’s underage system. The Ireland U20 international shifted to the Championship in 2013, playing for Ealing Trailfinders and then Nottingham.

Eoin Griffin James Crombie / INPHO Griffin will push for a midfield spot. James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

Connacht’s recruitment also sees two New Zealand-born, Irish-qualified players come on board, in 22-year-old prop Dominic Robertson-McCoy and 27-year-old outside back Josh Rowland. Both have ITM Cup experience, while Rowland is already an Ireland 7s international.


The Welsh region haven’t managed to attract a big-name signing from the Southern Hemisphere, but Kiwi centre Sam Beard joins from Edinburgh.

There are three new faces who have made the moved from Cardiff in props Tom DaviesCraig Mitchell and Sam Hobbs. 

South African centre Pat Howard will be familiar to Munster fans after his loan spell at the province during the 2014/15 season. The 24-year-old joins from Northampton Saints, while experienced out-half/fullback Nick Macleod has moved from Sale.


Alan Solomons’ men have lured promising Irish wing Rory Scholes to Scotland from Ulster ahead of the new season, while Scottish international out-half Duncan Weir is another addition.

Out-half Jason Tovey is a permanent signing following his loan spell from the Dragons last season, while brothers Kevin and Glenn Bryce join from Glasgow Warriors.

The 6’5″ Fiji 7s international Viliame Mata is set to sign on after the Olympics [the move has not been official confirmed yet], and would bring dynamism, handling skill and intelligence to the back row or second row.

Ruan Pienaar and Franco van der Merwe with Jamie Heaslip Presseye / Darren Kidd/INPHO Ex-Ireland U20 cap Scholes is with Edinburgh now. Presseye / Darren Kidd/INPHO / Darren Kidd/INPHO

Tongan international back row Viliami Fihaki has been confirmed after leaving Sale this summer, while former Australia 7s international Solomoni ‘Junior’ Rasolea bolsters the midfield.

Pacy ex-Australia U20 wing Alex Northam joins after a loan spell at La Rochelle last season, and Samoan centre Sasa Tofilau has signed on the back of his impressive performances in Scottish club rugby.


Gregor Townsend’s men have compensated for the departure of Taqele Naiyarovoro by bringing in elusive Italy wing Leonardo Sarto from Zebre.

35-year-old ex-All Black hooker Corey Flynn has brought huge experience from Toulouse, while fellow Kiwi and tighthead prop Jarrod Firth comes on board after featuring for the Chiefs in the 2015 Super Rugby season.

Completing the trio of New Zealanders joining is out-half Hagen Schulte, who had a trial spell in Glasgow last season and qualifies to play for Scotland through one of his grandparents.

England Saxons-capped Rory Clegg comes on board from Oyonnax in France, while Canada international prop Djustice Sears-Duru - who played against Ireland at the World Cup last year – has also signed.

Namibian lock Tjiuee Uanivi, who was also at the 2015 RWC, has the task of replacing Leone Nakarawa, and Fiji international Nemia Kenatale provides a new option at scrum-half.


Ireland international centre Robbie Henshaw is among the best signings in the league this summer, although his plan for an early impact has been ruined by a knee injury.

Jamison Gibson-Park Photosport / Andrew Cornaga/INPHO Gibson-Park was with the Blues before joining the Canes. Photosport / Andrew Cornaga/INPHO / Andrew Cornaga/INPHO

Kiwi native Jamison Gibson-Park had been due to arrive earlier this month, but the scrum-half has been playing impressive cameo roles off the bench for the Hurricanes in their drive to the Super Rugby semi-finals and remains in New Zealand.

He has again been named on the bench for the Canes’ semi-final against the Chiefs on Saturday [KO 8.35am Irish time, Sky Sports 1].

Returning to Leinster on a short-term deal is Niall Morris, who won a Premiership title with Leicester Tigers but had last season ruined by injury. Finally, returning to professional rugby is former Munster lock Ian Nagle.


David Nucifora’s plans for more inter-provincial transfer movement have seen the highly-promising centre Sam Arnold move south from Ulster this summer, bringing with him impressive athletic ability.

32-year-old tighthead prop John Andress returns to Ireland following his nine-year stint abroad, while lock Darren O’Shea is back with his home province after two seasons of gaining valuable experience with Worcester in England.

Sammy Arnold James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

Munster’s most recent signing is the 22-year-old South African lock Jean Kleyn, who looks like a very strong addition.


Kiwi centre Kieran Fonotia is an excellent signing for the Ospreys, after a strong Super Rugby season with the Crusaders. A tiler before turning professional in rugby, the 28-year-old will bring power to the Welsh side’s midfield this season.

The signing of 56-times capped Wales lock Bradley Davies is another impressive piece of transfer business for Steve Tandy’s outfit, as he makes the move back to home soil from Wasps.

Wales international tighthead Rhodri Jones, still only 24, has moved from the Scarlets and hooker Hugh Gustafson joins from the Dragons.


The Scarlets have seen many players depart, but their recruitment has been highly positive in the off-season.

Wales and Lions centre Jonathan Davies is back after two seasons with Clermont in the Top 14, while 25-year-old Kiwi wing Johnny McNicholl will be an excellent addition later this season. A three-year deal may put him in line for Welsh caps.

23-year-old Wales international fullback/out-half Rhys Patchell makes the move from Cardiff, as centre Richard Smith and wing Tom Williams join him in moving from the capital.

Johnny McNicholl is tackled by Julian Savea Photosport / John Davidson/INPHO McNicholl will be a fine addition for the Scarlets. Photosport / John Davidson/INPHO / John Davidson/INPHO

Experienced South African tighthead Werner Kruger, who has four Springbok caps, should strengthen the set-piece, with his compatriot Rynier Bernardo moving from the Ospreys to compete for a second row place.

Irishman Tadhg Beirne will be doing the same following his transfer from Leinster. The 24-year-old lock was capped by Ireland at U19 and U20 levels before making four senior appearances for the eastern province.

Scrum-half Jonathan Evans moves back to Wales after a year with Bath.


The big Southern Hemisphere signing of the season for Treviso is Marty Banks, the Highlanders’ back-up out-half, who should prove to be a superb acquisition.

Italy international out-half Tommaso Allan has also joined from Perpignan, while he is joined by fellow Test players in outside back Tommaso Benvenuti, wing David Odiete and scrum-half Tito Tebaldi.

22-year-old prop Tiziano Pasquali moves home to Italy after attending school in Scotland and coming through the Leicester academy, as 31-year-old Kiwi wing Michael Tagicakibau joins from the Scarlets.

Of most interest to Irish rugby fans is Treviso’s signing of out-half Ian McKinley, who featured for Zebreon permit terms in the Pro12 last season. His progress will be followed closely.


The capture of All Blacks-capped fullback Charles Piutau is surely the most exciting inbound transfer of any in the Pro12 this summer, with his dangerous running game certain to thrill fans at the Kingspan Stadium.

Charles Piutau Ryan Byrne / INPHO Piutau had a brilliant season for Wasps. Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

Springboks back row Marcell Coetzee is another big-name signing for the northern province, although he suffered a serious knee injury following confirmation of the move.

Imposing lock Kieran Treadwell is a clever addition from Harlequins and looks like a potential future international, while Ireland-capped tighthead Rodney Ah You shifts up from Connacht.

Brett Herron has landed in to provide an option at out-half behind Paddy Jackson, while Ireland Clubs scrum-half Angus Lloyd has earned a contract on the back of his impressive form for Trinity in the Ulster Bank League.


The Italian side’s biggest signing of the summer is New Zealand sevens international Kurt Baker, who previously played Super Rugby with the Highlanders.

There are four new South African faces in the shape of ex-Lions back row Derick Minnie, 22-year-old prop Bart le Roux, former Baby Boks wing Lloyd Greeff, and scrum-half Carlo Engelbrecht from the Blue Bulls.

Four incoming Italy internationals should boost the club’s quality, with second row Josh Furno, experienced hooker Carlo Festuccia and 36-times capped outside back Giovanbattista Venditti all signing.

22-year-old wing Mattia Bellini, capped five times already, is also on board on a permanent deal after playing on permit terms last season.

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