Super Rugby

Five big Super Rugby transfers

Five big Super Rugby transfers

WITH SO much attention on the exodus of Hurricanes players to the Blues and Highlanders, and the arrival of James O’Connor and Kurtley Beale in Melbourne, we take a look at some of the other significant action on the Super Rugby transfer market.

SAREL PRETORIUS (Cheetahs to Waratahs)

Given his rather questionable defensive record at the base of the Cheetahs’ scrum last year (Pretorius tallied the most missed tackles [48] in 2011 action), there is growing concern in Sydney that Pretorius could end up being a defensive liability for the ’Tahs this season.

However, that rather unflattering record must also be tempered by the fact that the South African halfback crossed for nine tries – a record for a halfback – in a Cheetahs side that only finished 11th on the ladder.

The dangerous No 9 is a prolific provincial tryscorer too, scoring a whopping 41 five-pointers in 99 appearances for Valke and Griquas.

ADAM ASHLEY-COOPER (Brumbies to Waratahs)

People are right when they say Ashley-Cooper is no Kurtley Beale, but then again, no one is, really. 

Still, the Waratahs are getting a more than adequate replacement in the 63-test Wallaby utility back.

The All Blacks certainly respect the former Brumbies star, with three of the four test tries he scored in 2010 coming against New Zealand, taking his career tally against the Men in Black to six.

Ashley-Cooper can pretty much play anywhere in the backline past first five, but expect to see him wearing the ’Tahs No 15 jersey – and running the ball as if his life depended on it – this season.

TOM DONNELLY (Highlanders to Crusaders)

Don’t be mistaken into thinking this is like former All Blacks lock Chris Jack coming back into the Crusaders fold a couple of years back.

Jack, who now plies his trade in Japan, was entering the final stages of his top-level career when he re-joined the Crusaders in 2010 after stints in England and South Africa. Donnelly, on the other hand, has his sights set on making a return to the All Blacks after failing to feature for the national side in 2011. (World Cup-winning coach Graham Henry labelled him as “unlucky” to miss out.)

And where better to make that move back to the top than with the seven-time champions?

Judging by the precedent set by the man he replaced at the Crusaders, Brad Thorn, Donnelly could still easily have three or even four years of ‘big time’ rugby ahead of him.

JAMES HASKELL (Ricoh to Highlanders)

It is perhaps a sign of the preoccupation that some rugby people in this country have with all things Southern Hemisphere that Haskell’s signing with the Highlanders hasn’t been met with more fanfare.

Indeed, the England utility loose forward has had extensive experience in England and France with Wasps and Stade Français respectively, not to mention donning the Red Rose on 42 occasions since 2007, including five appearances at last year’s World Cup in New Zealand.

The 26-year-old started every game in England’s victorious 2011 Six Nations campaign and won a Heineken Cup winner’s medal in only his second season with Wasps.  

AARON CRUDEN (Hurricanes to Chiefs)

Hosea Gear, Ma’a Nonu, Piri Weepu and Andrew Hore might have left the ’Canes because they were unhappy with how things were going under Mark Hammett, but Cruden’s shift north to the Chiefs had more to do with his longstanding (and successful) relationship with Dave Rennie.

The pair has been working together since 2008, when Cruden made a big splash for Manawatu in his debut season before he was forced to withdraw after being diagnosed with testicular cancer.

They won a Junior World Championship in Japan the following season – with Cruden named Player of the Tournament – and last year Cruden picked up the ITM Cup Player of the Year gong after Rennie’s side made the Championship final.

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