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By Stevie J
Updated 08/07/21
I've decided to put together another list of who I think is out of contract to give us a list of squad strength, who is expected to leave or confirmed leavers and any additions for this year. Where the contract length has not been stated I've guessed and following the restart period where some signed extensions but were never announced I’ve just given up on guessing.

Rumoured / Confirmed Leavers - Elrington, Matu’u, Kepu (NPC), Mahu, Meakes (LA Giltinis), Brophy-Clews (Retirement), Meehan, Homer (Retirement), Naholo, Groom, Podrezov, Kerr.
Rumoured / Confirmed Joiners - Gigena (Prop), Van Der Merwe (Prop), Willemse (Hooker), White (Scrum Half), O’Sullivan (Scrum Half), Jennings (Fly Half), Janse Van Rensburg (Centre), Rowe (Wing).

Squad Size 2020-2021
  • 55 Total Players (last season 68!)
  • 38 Senior Players (1 loaned out, 1 short-term in) (last season 54)
  • 17 Academy (last season 14)
  • LH – Dell, Elrington, Goodrick-Clarke, Gigena
  • TH – Kepu, Hoskins, Chawatama
  • Academy – Haffar (Year 1), Green (Year 2)
Outgoing – Kepu confirmed as being released on Compassionate grounds. Podrezov won’t be kept beyond the end of the season. Confirmed that Harry Elrington will be leaving.
Incoming – Facunda Gigena is a done deal and he has joined mid-season. Vladimir Podrezov also joined mid-season at least until the end of the season as Tighthead cover. Another Tighthead, Van Der Merwe is joining from La Rochelle.

  • Creevy, Ma’atu, Cornish
  • Academy – Ben Atkins (Year 3), Joe Vajner (Year 1)
Outgoing – Creevy was initially rumoured as one year but has extended his contract (no length given, 10/2). Ma’atu is confirmed as leaving.
Incoming – Mike Willemse will join from Edinburgh for next season.

  • Coleman, Simmons, Nott, Mahu
  • Academy – Munga (Year 2)
Outgoing – Despite an impressive start to the season, Andrei Mahu will be leaving.
Incoming – No expected joiners.

  • O’Brien, Cowan, Mafi, Ioane (On Loan to Glasgow), Curtis-Harris, Cooke
  • Academy – Donnell (Year 3), Smart (Year 2), Moore-Aiono (Year 3), Brooke (Year 1), Davis (Year 1)
Outgoing - Ioane is on loan to Glasgow and won’t return.
Incoming - Another potential star from Cardiff Met is joining the Academy, Tom Pearson, formerly for the Gloucester Academy (like WGC).

  • Tuisue, Rogerson
  • Academy – Rhodes (Year 1)
Outgoing – None.
Incoming – None expected.

  • Meehan, Phipps, Brand
  • Academy – Englefield (Year 3), Morgan (Year 1)
Outgoing – TRP links Gloucester with Ben Meehan, who left the club end of April on Personal Reasons and is already back home in Australia. Nic Groom won’t stay beyond the end of season.
Incoming – Ben White and Hugh O’Sullivan coming from Tigers and Leinster respectively. Brand and Englefield are staying for at least another year.

  • Jackson, Brophy-Clews, Atkins
  • Academy – Smurdon (Year 1?)
Outgoing – Whilst initially being linked away to Newcastle, Theo is retiring immediately on health grounds.
Incoming – Club signed Rory Jennings from Clermont Auvergne.

  • Hepetema, Rona, Williams, Cokanasiga, Meakes (Short Term)
  • Academy – Joseph (Year 1)
Outgoing – Meakes will leave in the new year as his short term deal comes to an end.
Incoming – Benhard Janse Van Rensburg is joining from Japan.

  • Loader, Naholo, Hassell-Collins, Kerr
  • Academy – Dykes and Harmes (both Year 1)
Outgoing – Naholo and Kerr are both confirmed as leaving.
Incoming – Kyle Rowe, formerly of Scotland 7s is joining from Edinburgh.

Full Back
  • Homer, Parton, Stokes
  • Academy – None
Outgoing – Homer is retiring from rugby rather than join the Pro D2.
Incoming – None expected.
Last edited by Stevie J on Thu Jul 08, 2021 2:24 pm, edited 33 times in total.
GHA liked this
Difficult these days doing these since they stopped talking about contract lengths.

Certainly shows where some of the decisions are likely to be made though.

- As you say, it may be that both Brand and Englefield are vying for that 3rd SH slot next season.
- Expect Mahu is on a one year deal given how unproven he was. Early days, but wouldn't be surprised to see it extended.
- At hooker it will be interesting to see whether Atkins has made the cut for next year. Creevy should be good for another year hopefully.
- Assuming Naholo gets back to some semblance of fitness, I don't see too much recruitment happening in the back three unless we lose one of the younger lads.
- In the back row, I'm surprised Donnell isn't already on a senior deal, given Cokanasiga picked one up. Big year for Izzy to stake a claim for a squad slot.
All clubs’ fans gripe about lack of information on players’ welfare and contract status, but I think Declan likes to keep us further in the dark than most and makes no apology for it! For me it’s the back row that’s hardest to call. There’s a lot of talk about bringing academy lads through, but I’m not convinced that ICH is a no 8 in the longer term - he just doesn’t look big enough, and might be better on the flank. I wonder if a bulked up Ben Donnell might be better prospect at 8?
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By MattM
ICH came through as an 8 (as did Moore-Aiono) but I suspect both will end up primarily as 7s.

For me the key recruitment area is in the centres. I believe Hepetema got a three year deal so he would be out of contract this season and we sorely lack depth to begin with.
Yep, ICH was a pretty dominant 8 at U18s, but he doesn't really seem to have the size to do the same in the pros. Definitely worth persevering with though as he adds a bit of dynamism to the flank. And you never know, there can be a role for smaller 8s in the game if he kicks on with S Simmonds as the gold standard.

Definitely agree on the centres*

* Although I guess if no one leaves it does depend on how good they think Cokanasiga and Joseph are going to be in the short to medium term
By GC89
Of the young back row guys ICH is the one I could see going at the end of the season. I really rated him and was keen to see him push on but it just feels that at 23 he is at danger of being overtaken by guys like Izzy and the next youngsters coming through. If he was a genuine option at 8 it might be different, but it seems clear to me his best bet is as a mobile 7 and I think there are better long term options there now.

I don't think we will see too much movement next season, which for me would be a good thing. Something like:

Props - I think overall will probably stay the same. Elrington has gone from first choice to third choice for me though and if there was the possibility of upgrading I could see that happening. Kepu has come good at tight head and the back-ups are both solid options.

Hooker - Matu'u out, Els in.

Second row - Coleman and Simmons is a great starting pair and Mahu looks a very good back-up. Munga is going to be a great player, potentially international standard one day. Mafi can switch from the back row. Nott may move on, but he has done a solid job and have no issues with him filling that final slot.

Back row - I thought Blair may retire, but it sounds as if he is keen to keep going, which for me is a big positive. We have a great batch of youngsters, but I would ideally like one front line player to come in and compete across the three positions. If SOB was able to stay fit that would be mitigated, but we just cannot bank on that. Lamborn would fit the bill.

Scrum half - Phipps and Meehan to stay I expect. Academy lads to fight it out for 3rd spot with maybe one moving on.

Fly half - Jackson as first choice. Hard to know if we need a more experienced back-up here. Until TBC can string more than two games together, I would suggest we might. Atkins is solid enough but if Paddy was out for more than a few games I think we would be worried.

Centres - Really hope we can hang onto Rona. he has become very important for us. Agree though that overall we need more depth, especially at 12. Williams and Joseph backing up at 13 concerns me a lot less than Cokanasiga being the next in line at 12 after Hepetema.

Back three - hopefully little movement. Would love it if Naholo got fit though and offered genuine competition to the young lads.
MattM, Pirate Queen liked this
A very fair summary. I share your concerns in the centres and I'd feel a whole lot happier if Meakes were to stay. Although I'm probably in a minority, I've never been very impressed by Matt Williams, so I would think of him as a long term investment. Phil C is still very raw and I haven't seen enough of Joseph junior to form a view. Using TBC as cover at both 10 and 12 may be convenient but it's a risky strategy - we only need Rona to go down with a long-term injury and we'd be in a whole heap of trouble!
Jackson is definitely key at 10 depth wise. If he were to go down for a few months, we'd be taking a bit of a risk only having TBC and Atkins (and Meehan I guess) in the locker. None are what you would call proven 10s at this level.

May work out fine, but it could be uncomfortable
Agree with pretty much all of the above.

A Jimmy Gopperth / Felipe Contepomi / Mike Catt type who can play 10/12 would solve a lot of problems. Even the likes of Bowden / Flutey from our slightly more recent past, and what James Marshall was meant to be but never fulfilled. What I'd give for Mike Catt back...

If Paddy does a knee and is out for the season in the next couple of games, we become at least twice as likely to go down. I don't think that's an exaggeration. TBC's fitness still can't be trusted, and for me, Atkins always feels like a good junior struggling to swim in senior rugby.

I really can't see us bringing in more than four/five tops.

Wouldn't have minded it being us, rather than Gloucester, taking a punt on the Georgian centre, Kveseladze. No Xmas cards for Skivs.
GC89 wrote:
Sat Dec 19, 2020 12:56 pm
There were Instagram based rumours of Juan Manuel Cat, the Uruguayan back. Obviously unproven in European domestic rugby but can cover 10, 12 and 13. Could be a decent punt.
Ha, I do remember the excellent comment about 'Two Automatic Dogs' being Juan's opposite on the other board.
MattM liked this
Yeah, he'd do on the centre front.

My subscription has lapsed. How was it worded? That we are talking to him or a bit more locked in than that?

Edit - Although, if true, hope it's not an indication that Rona is off.
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By Narbia
I'm pretty sure HJ is talking to a few English clubs. He was rumoured with going to Tigers a couple of years back.

There won't be any visa problems with him either, however he could have been the highest paid player in the GW squad, and where would LI get that additional ££ from - unless we're losing a quality national-squad player somewhere.

HJ seemed to slip down the Centre rankings somewhat @ GW and Scotland, but did pick up the mantel at GW FB.

That said, if correctly managed, he could be an asset. Capable of some spectacular line -breaks. Running rugby is his forte. But, who currently has the £££ and the spare berth these days?
By GC89
Based on the past couple of seasons, Jones would probably be a slight downgrade on Rona at his current best. However, Jones of 2017 was one of the best centres in Europe and was incredibly unlucky not to make the Lions tour. If we get him back to near that level he would be an upgrade on Rona. The only downside is that if he gets back to that form he will soon be back on Scotland's agenda. Anyway, if Rona has to go then Jones would be as good a replacement as we could hope for.
By GC89
Someone on the Craic has identified that Carel du Preez is heading our way. Very rangy, speedy back row player with experience with the SA 7s side. Previously of the Pumas in Currie Cup but now with Krasny Yar in Russia on a short term deal.

I would have thought with Rogerson, Mafi, Cooke and Donnell we were quite well-stocked at 6 (where I would see this guy fitting in), but perhaps it is a recognition of the fact that Mafi will be used more at lock going forwards and Rogerson could get moved across to 8 at some stage if Tuisue is injured or unavailable.
Yeah saw that. He looks a bit of a punt playing in Russia and not seeming to have played Super Rugby (although Currie Cup is a decent enough standard).

That said, he's not likely to cost a huge amount and a few players recently like Mahu and Stokes who would be in similar brackets have worked out well. Going on the highlight reel, he's also very dynamic and quick. You can see why he got the sevens gig.
According to Wikipedia:

13/14 - Western Province, 10 apps
15/16 - South Africa Sevens, 21 apps
16 to 20 - ?
20/21 - Enisei-STM, 2 apps (probably more now)

Big gap in the middle...
Yeah I guess it's a 16/17, 17/18 gap but that is including 5 Sevens Tournament appearances in two years. Not that I'm complaining if a possible new recruit in the back row has played 7s - the last one of those we had was pretty handy! I just hope the guy (if he does come) has got the rust out of him...
GC89 wrote:
Mon Jan 11, 2021 3:22 pm
Increasingly fear Rona will be off at the end of the season... :no:
Yep, he'd leave a huge hole if if did leave.

Turned out to be such a superb signing and the best centre we've had for a long time. He can do absolutely everything a 13 needs to do and has a knack of making the right decision most of the time.
By GC89
There were existing rumours of his return to the Bulldogs in NRL and he is liking/resharing a lot of their stuff on social media, including fan posts about him hopefully returning. Could be nothing, but inclined to think no smoke without fire.
Even if it means bumping his contract by 100k to get him to sign on for another two (or hopefully three) years, I think it's worth it.

He's such a class act. I'm thinking of the moment in the Quins game where we countered, lost it, and had it kicked over heads with no-one at the back. The way Rona got back, wriggled through the first two defenders and then tore through the midfield was so poised and composed, under massive pressure.

And many more moments to boot.
GHA liked this
By Florida
An excellent player, I think he suffered a little from us playing him on the wing but he's certainly looking good now.

I wouldn't be surprised if he returned to Aus. The pandemic makes you re-evaluate choosing to live abroad away from your family.
Yes, just saw that re: Dell.

He's probably less important to us than Gary Graham is to Newcastle, given he's their talisman, but still a big loss - it puts more pressure on WGC and Elrington, given persistent scrum issues. Hopefully a fully fit trio of Coleman/Simmons/Mafi in behind gives the required ballast.

Any ideas which of the academy lads would be next cab off the rank, MW? In case WGC or Elrington were self-isolating, injured, etc.?
Yep, Haffar would be a long way off being ready really though I think. Believe only Joseph of the first year guys has been training with the squad.

Lovejoy has would probably be next in line as he's dabbled with loosehead very occasionally.
By GC89
May have just been because of low numbers (or I may have incorrectly identified someone), but pretty sure Haffar was part of the extended squad v Quins and was involved in the warm-up. He looks a great prospect, but imagine he is a few years off holding his own at scrum time, especially considering he was a number 8 until fairly recently.

WGC looks to have potential from where I am stood, but a proper loosehead to compete with Dell for the number 1 slot would be one of my top priorities for next season's recruitment.
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