Although WGJ is confirmed as leaving, from what I can gather there are a few expiries - namely Rohan, Manu, McGuigan, Phillips and Beaumont. Some pretty big names there!
My decisions would be as follows...
On the face of it, this is a no-brainer - keep! Our backplay is significantly reliant on him and, alongside Manu he's our best carrier. However, he's had significant injury problems and I hardly imagine he's on a small salary. If salary allows, I'd still keep him though.
Keep for 1 year. Rotate with Rohan and don't overplay him.
This is where things get tricky. He's been absolutely superb for us but if there's one thing we tend to agree on, it's that our backline lacks pace. In an ideal world, I'd keep him, but I think we need a winger with top-end gas and we may have to take the tricky decision not to renew his contract. He's unfortunate that his contract is up when the other wingers' aren't.
Has done a great job for us, but we're overstocked at second row and Poss offers a homegrown, younger version. A reluctant departure.
100% keep. Extremely impressive since coming back and for my money is ahead of Wiese in the race to partner Lood. Can't be underestimated the effect he's had on the lineout. He's also captained us in the past and with Ross proving a liability at the minute, maybe it could happen again?
This is an area of real concern for me. WGJ is our only reliable tighthead and he's leaving. Ooisthuizen is a penalty magnet and is nowhere near as dominant in the scrum as I'd have hoped and JCW has been a huge disappointment - I remember Dimes saying something about refs finding ways to penalise him at the scrum, have there been some new rules which he's falling foul of? Anyway, we need a top-class option there next season. With Rodd showing incredible promise, a dominant Tight Head is imperative to support him on the other side. Harper is highly regarded but realistically probably a season off regular gametime.
Some difficult decisions to be made. On the excellent Shark Tank Podcast I seem to recall they correctly said he was a great captain for Dimes when we were an underdog - uncompromising, astonishing durability/workrate allied with an aggressive edge. I've long believed although he's a great leader, he's not a great captain - these are two different things. His rapport with referees is poor and he frequently gets sin-binned himself. Top sides do not have a captain like this - they may have players like this but not a captain.
With this in mind I'd give it to Ben Curry, perhaps Beaumont. Tom Curry would also be an option but with his international commitments just wouldn't be here enough.
The Back Division
Frankly, it's an absolute shambles. Consistent linebreaks from first phase are a distant memory and there's a good argument that the only ones currently in form are AJ, Yarde and Luke James. Everyone else is underperforming and there were times during the Northampton game when we didn't look like we had a clue how we were trying to attack. 'Backs moves' consisting of blindly shovelling the ball to the winger without committing a man, players way behind the gainline when getting the ball. These are symptomatic of poor coaching which puts Deacon firmly under the spotlight.
For some time now we've been over-reliant on physicality from the forwards. Our backplay has long lacked any kind of penetration. One bonus point all season is absolutely shocking and indicative of our complete inability to put teams away when we're on top. Worryingly, even though Rohan and Manu are out we seem completely unable to adapt and play differently.
With that being said, our backline is incredibly one-paced and makes it difficult to create mismatches. I wouldn't say any of our back three would be anywhere near the top 10 quickest players in the league. Only Denny would trouble that and he's not 100% at the minute. The lack of top-end pace isn't a huge problem if our structured play is good, but as it's so poor the lack of gamebreakers is killing us. A quick winger would be a priority for me.
Finally, if there isn't a marked improvement in this area by the end of the season, I'd bring in a new attacking coach.
Blimey! I really didn't plan on writing that much but that's what a day off with little else to do will do to you! Feel free to tear my observations apart