We take a look at eight of the absolute worst signings rugby clubs from around the world have made in recent memory…
1.James O’Connor – The Rebels
It was a close call between O’Connor and Danny Cipriani at the Rebels, but the former Wallaby just nicks it due to the hype he signed with. Despite his undoubted talents, O’Connor failed to live up to expectations, in no large part due to his off field antics alongside the likes of Cipriani and Kurtley Beale. It therefore wasn’t a surprise to anyone when the Rebels dumped him.
2.Benji Marshall – The Blues
The league convert arrived to great fanfare in Auckland where he was seen as a potential All Black if he could adjust to union. Unfortunately not only did Marshall completely fail to live up to expectations at the Blues, but he only ended up playing six games for the Auckland based franchise before heading back to league (even Sam Burgess managed one season).
3.Piri Weepu – London Welsh
Weepu was the stat name amongst a raft of new signings after London Welsh won promotion to the Premiership in 2014, but despite some early hints of promise, Weepu’s form dropped off a cliff badly. He clearly wasn’t fit enough for professional rugby and was shipped out to Wasps mid-season before joining Oyonnax in 2015 where his contract was quickly revoked.
4.Sam Norton-Knight – Cardiff Blues
Wallaby full back/fly half Sam Norton-Knight agreed a big money move to join the Cardiff Blues in 2009 having been hailed as ‘the next Stephen Larkham’. After failing to impress on the pitch throughout the season, Norton-Knight agreed a move to Japan at the end of the season, but not before forcing Ceri Sweeney out the door in Cardiff.
5.Paul Doran-Jones – Harlequins
After breaking through at Gloucester and spending a couple of seasons at Northampton, Harlequins agreed a contract to sign Doran-Jones in 2013. The England prop was signed to big money and expected to be a part of the EPS, however he ended up making just 19 appearances for Quins before agreeing a move back to Gloucester in 2015.
6.Ma’a Nonu – The Highlanders
Undoubtedly one of the greatest players of his generation – Nonu has been a key figure for club and country for a number of years, however his stint at the Highlanders won’t be remembered with too much fondance. Whether it was the coaching team’s inability to get the best out of him, or just the fact he was an unnecessary addition, Nonu failed to really settle in Otago.
7.Salesi Ma’afu – Toulon
Despite his misdemeanours at Northampton Saints, Toulon took a gamble on Ma’afu who joined the French giants in 2015. Ma’afu however only lasted a matter of months at Toulon before he was let go ‘by mutual agreement’ after he was convicted of an off-field assault. He was quickly snapped up by Cardiff Blues but still looks a liability both on and off the field.
8.Sam Burgess – Bath
We’ve already mentioned him, but it’s hard to ignore Burgess on this list, even ignoring his international union career. Burgess came to Bath on a huge deal (reportedly as one of the best paid players in the Premeirship), only to miss the first few months because of injury. His signing resulted in the likes of Carl Fearns leaving before he opted to move back to league.