The 2016 edition of Super Rugby is just around the corner, and this will be the biggest and most ambitious tournament to date, with three new teams joining and a more globe-spanning game on the horizon. As a result, there will be a number of new faces hitting the pitch, so we took a look at the 5 Super Rugby newcomers you need to keep an eye out for:
Glen Fisiiahi (Chiefs)
Another rugby league star is making his switch to union this season, as prolific NRL try-scorer Glen Fishiiahi will be donning a Chiefs jersey this season. Fishiiahi has electric pace, a strong skill set and is an outstanding support player. The opportunity for Fisiiahi to roam on both sides of the park will also suit the Chiefs’ expansive gameplan. While he will be a Super Rugby newbie, Fisiiahi played First XV rugby union at the prestigious rugby school of Wesley College before being signed by rugby league side, the Warriors.
Rieko Ioane (Blues)
After his success in the Sevens World Series with the All Blacks, Rieko Ioane will be joining the Blues under the watchful eye of Tana Umaga. Rieko will also be joining his brother Akira Ioane, who made his debut for the Blues in 2015. Rieko is an incredibly elusive, fast, and skillful player who the Blues are looking to use in the centres, most likely at outside centre. With the Blues’ dangerous wingers, Reiko Ioane could be a valuable link to help the Auckland side achieve their potential – something that’s been eluding them in recent seasons.
Ayumu Goromaru (Reds)
Japan’s spirited wins over the Springboks, Samoa, and the USA in the World Cup produced some new heroes of world rugby, but none bigger than Ayumu Goromaru. The beloved fullback accumulated 58 points for his side thanks to one try and a stellar display of kicking throughout the World Cup. Goromaru will add his vast array of skills to the Queensland Reds in the new year, helping fill the void left by Quade Cooper, James O’Connor, and a number of other notable departing stars. The 29-year-old’s composed play-style should thrive under the eyes of coach Richard Graham.
Santiago Cordero (Los Jaguares)
While the new Argentine side, Los Jaguares, have some pretty big attacking threats in their forward pack, their most potent strike-weapon is their smallest winger, Santiago Cordero. The 78kg flyer has some of the best footwork in world rugby, and tore apart every single defence he came up against with Argentina in the Rugby World Cup. Cordero showed he has the pace, kicking ability, and pure evasion techniques to bamboozle the best of defenders in the world. Los Jaguares will be looking to Cordero to add some x-factor to the backline and unleash him in some open-space.
Jacques Vermeulen (Stormers)
While the Stormers will be without Duane Vermeulen this season, they have acquired another big loose forward with the same namesake. Jacques Vermeulen is a powerful running back-rower who was part of the 2015 World Rugby Under 20 Championship, scoring a try in the second minute of the match to help South Africa to a 46–13 win over Australia in the pool stages. The ex-Paul Roos Gymnasium student was also named the Schoolboy Player of the Year in 2013, and will be a versatile addition to the Cape side in 2016.