Top 5: Best Premiership Signings of Last Year

Updated: Dec 18, 2020

Despite the pandemic scuppering the Premiership's momentum last season, it did turn out to be one of the most entertaining seasons we've had in a long time. We saw amazing comebacks, controversies off of the pitch, falls from grace and breakout stars; everything you want from a neutral perspective anyway! We also saw some outstanding transfers make their mark for clubs pushing up the table, so we thought we would list and rate them! This list will NOT include loanee players, sorry Ben Earl and Max Malins, but no room for you today; we also will only be picking one player per club... Some quick honourable mentions would be Zach Kibirige (Wasps), Nathan Hughes (Bristol Bears) and Matteo Minozzi (Wasps). Let's dive into it...

5. Nemani Nadolo (Leicester Tigers)


It's been a torrid time for the Tigers this season, finishing rock bottom (barring the Saracens point deduction) putting in rocky performances up until the final whistle was blown in the last round of fixtures. Leicester have had a poor time of it with management off of the field that has led to inconsistencies being reflected back on the pitch. However, when it was reported that the big flying Fijian had signed for the club back in March, it did feel like a little too late for the club. 32 years old and having previously announced retirement for his national side (something he has since redacted), it did feel like an odd signing to make; the last thing Tigers needed were veterans but instead some fresh blood to push the team forward. We are happy to admit that we were wrong as Nadolo became the standout starter for the Green, White and Red's producing a man of the match performance in his first outing against London Irish, snatching victory has a result. This wouldn't be his last contribution, as he went on to play another four games for the Tigers before the season ended, scoring two tries in what has been an incredibly dysfunctional back line. Not only does he cause havoc with ball in hand, he's also fearsome in Defence, absolutely smashing the huge Taqele Naiyaravoro in the Tigers clash with the Saints which again resulted in another W. If he can keep fit, he will be a big cog in the machine that prevents the massive club from relegation next season.


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4. Malakai Fekitoa (Wasps)


Although my Wasps bias could have impacted this decision (as I would have put him further up this list), Fekitoa has added some much needed grit into that midfield, a grit Wasps haven't seen since they had the likes of Lewsey and Erinle placing in at 13. Although he had a somewhat slow start, struggling to fit in with such expansive playmakers like Sopoaga, Gopperth and Umaga, after the restart he looked like a player reborn. Abrasive, tenacious, a threat in attack and an even bigger threat in Defence, Fekitoa became instrumental in a backline that saw Wasps take teams such as Bristol, Leicester and Northampton to the sword. Unfortunately missing out on the final, Fekitoa was a huge loss and could have provided Wasps with a little more ballast in the centre of the park. He also put in a good three or four tackles that were 'Tackle of the Season' quality, it's been a while since we've come across such an explosive force.


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3. Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs)


It feels like Hogg has been a mainstay in that Chiefs setup for years and honestly, that's perhaps the biggest compliment you can pay a new signing. He's been so integral to their style of play and so useful in so many departments, that it's a wonder how he isn't getting more plaudits for his performances. In a season that we've seen incredibly patchy performances by 15's in the league, with the only three standouts being himself, Minozzi and Malins, Hogg has orchestrated well from the back-field, putting in cracking tactical kicks, being decisive and cutting edge with ball in hands, and being generally safe under the high ball. He might have lost some of the wildness and flair of his earlier days, but his all round game has continued to develop. A big missing piece now-found for this prolific Chiefs puzzle.




2. Will Stuart (Bath)


Although much of the focus has gone to Will's counterpart in Beno Obano this season, his impact cannot go understated. At just 24, us Wasps fans were gutted to hear the news that our budding new prospect was hoovered up by Bath in the pre season. Set to get his first starting England cap this weekend against Georgia, Stuart has proven himself a real asset to that Bath front row. Mobile, a strong scrummager, effective around the loose and assured with ball in hand, Stuart is no longer a prospect but rather a genuine Premiership regular; one of which that helped push Bath up the table into the top 4. As far as overall signings go, this guy ticks all the boxes. Consistent starter with 16 of his 18 appearances coming from the first whistle, yet to come into his peak and internationally experienced, Stuart will sure up the Bath scrum for years to come.


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1. Semi Radradra (Bristol Bears)


Well let's face it, this list was only ever going to go one way. Semi Radradra is a strong nominee for European Player of the Year and surely World Player of the Year can't be too far away. Captain of the flying Fijians and a real leader in the Bears backline, Radradra is a ferocious tackler, has great positional awareness, has gas to burn and has unreal tekkers with ball in hand. When Sheedy was being interviewed on the Rugby Pod he summed it up perfectly, 'if you're unsure, pass it to Semi'. As a result, Radradra has perhaps flattered the Bears backline by making decisive solo breaks that others could benefit off of (such as Siale Piutau, Piers O'Connor and Alapati Leiua). The superlatives keep mounting up from game to game and every time we see Radradra grace the hallowed turf of Ashton Gate, we know we are in for a barnstormer. Perhaps the best Premiership signing of the last three years.


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