Five Under the Radar Players to Watch Ahead of the Premiership Season

Gallagher Premiership Signings
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JULY 28: Taqele Naiyaravoro of the Waratahs with possession during the Super Rugby semi final match between Emirates Lions and Waratahs at Emirates Airline Park on July 28, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Premiership sides have once again plucked stars from across the globe ahead of their upcoming Gallagher Premiership Signings campaigns. Charles Piutau, George Smith, Dan Biggar and Franco Mostert all immediately spring to mind.

Gallagher Premiership Signings

Here is a look at five players, some new and some familiar, who are flying under the radar but could have monumental seasons and have an impact on the Premiership table.

Kyle Eastmond

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Supremely talented, athletically gifted and experienced. The former rugby league star has flourished at times in his Premiership career, earning him international recognition, but has been hampered by recurring injuries. Eastmond’s inability to remain fit may have played a role in Wasps’ decision to release him at the end of last season.

The 29-year-old waited for offers but none were forthcoming. A return to rugby league was rumoured before Leicester Tigers swooped in after it was announced the superb Matt Toomua would return to Australia at the end of the season whilst also being available for the Wallabies throughout this season.

Eastmond, assuming he stays fit, will receive plenty of game time with Toomua away and the injury-prone Manu Tuilagi unlikely to play every game. The crucial factor in a possible Eastmond renaissance is the reforming of a 10-12 axis with George Ford. The two formed a formidable and innovatively creative pairing at Bath when they were genuine title contenders. If Leicester can secure front-foot ball, the Ford-Eastmond axis has the potential to unlock defences and unleash Tuilagi.

Eastmond showed enough at Wasps to deserve this opportunity. He has the talent and the support around him to be one of the stars of the season.

Ambrose Curtis

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A slightly left-field choice. The former New Zealand Sevens player possesses immense physical talent standing at six foot four and has a highlight reel well worth watching. Curtis faces stiff competition, with Wasps’ back line stacked with quality. Depending on the positioning of Elliot Daly, a spot is open in the back three especially when Willie Le Roux is away on international duty.

It might take the former Manawatu man some time to get his shot, but his pace and power could provide a beautiful contrast to the quick feet of Christian Wade.

 Taqele Naiyaravoro

From one physically gifted wing to another. Anyone who has seen the form of Naiyaravoro for the Waratahs this year will be hugely excited about his addition to the Premiership. Weighing over 120kgs, he has the type of power that puts him in the same league of physicality as Nemani Nadolo and Julian Savea.

The twice-capped Wallaby will replace George North for Northampton Saints. Given the respective form of the two individuals, Naiyaravoro represents a marked improvement. If the Saints can unleash the Fijian-born winger into space, it should be fun watching the wingers of the Premiership try and halt him.

 Luke Wallace

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Another surprise selection perhaps. Although possibly less so for Harlequins’ fans. Wallace is a quality operator. He is one of the best at securing turnovers in the league and has a strong ball carrying game that is often underrated. The noises coming out of Harlequins in pre-season suggest that Paul Gustard has been very impressed with Wallace. The 27-year-old should secure a starting berth for Quins and lay the platform for an excellent season.

It seems unlikely that Wallace will break into the England squad. The excellent performances of Tom Curry in South Africa, the return of Sam Underhill, as well as the new additions of Brad Shields and freshly eligible Michael Rhodes make the back row even more competitive than ever.

But the fact that Eddie Jones seems uninterested in Wallace will allow him to flourish week in and week out in the vastly improved defence anticipated under Gustard. Wallace can thrive and become a Premiership standout.

 Michael Fatialofa

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The uncapped New Zealander had an excellent campaign for the Hurricanes in Super Rugby keeping All Black Vaea Fifita on the bench for their playoff run. The 25-year-old will provide a physical presence for the Worcester Warriors which is much needed with the imposing Will Spencer joining Leicester.

The signing of Fatialofa is a real coup for Worcester. He is just coming into his prime and would have been a superb recruit for any side in the league. Whilst Fatialofa is not a star name, unlike some of the signings of relegation rivals Bristol, he will bring an edge to the pack at Sixways and ensure the Warriors remain an outfit capable of beating anyone on their day.

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