With the new season approaching, I will post some suggestions of signing targets that could be realistic, cheap, and most of all successful. Previously, I posted the possible fly-half targets. Now we go for the front row, where we aim to highlight the rare possibilities of props who are useful around the park, and sturdy scrummagers.
Name: Halani Aulika
Club: London Irish
What they offer: Out of the props on this list, he is probably the most limited scrummager. However, that is more testament to the other lads on this list, and there is no doubt that the Exiles pack had an extra boost when Aulika was on the field. What he is really known for is his exceptional work around the pitch. In the Premiership he is the loosehead version of Shalck Brits, shown by his _ tries in the 2012-2013 season.
Likelihood of Leaving: With London Irish looking like a bottom-half side for the short term at least, and having to play in front of a half empty stadium every week, most major clubs could have a chance in signing the Tongan (and this is sadly coming from a London Irish fan)
Who should sign them: A team seeking more ball carriers.
Name: BJ Botha
What they offer: Botha is exactly what you would expect from a South African prop. A passionate, tough beast who you would not want to meet in a dark alley. He won’t go backwards for anyone, and has a good combination of piercing drives, and solid scrummaging.
Likelihood of Leaving: For the majority of clubs, it seems unlikely. Botha seems to have fell in love with Thomand Park, becoming a fan favourite. But for a club who could lure him with a big budget, or a likelihood of winning trophies, there is a chance of Botha leaving.
Who should sign them: I only see this as a realistic option for a bid budgeted Top 14 side. Perhaps a club like Bordeaux could go for the world class prop.
Name: Kieran Brookes
Club: Newcastle Falcons
What they offer: A huge prop at over 19 stone, Brookes has been named in the extended England squad despite playing at a club who finished second-bottom of the league. The ex-Leicester prop is renowned for his immoveable force at the scrum and crunching hits. His fitness is probably is biggest issue, but this is nothing that a disciplined fitness coach can’t sort out.
Likelihood of Leaving: Brookes is likely to have England ambitions. He seems to be Lancaster’s 4th choice at Tighthead, but with Cole injured, and Henry Thomas not doing a sufficient job at scrum-time, Brookes is in with a shout to get England caps. With the ambitions to don a white shirt, Brookes would surely leave for a club of greater stature, or one who assure him more game time.
Who should sign them: A side who need a dependable Tighthead for scrum time, but also a side with a great work ethic to work on Brookes’ fitness. I was thinking Saracens would be an ideal destination, who will need a new Loosehead with the departure of Matt Stevens, and a wolfpack work ethic to get him in shape.
Name: Alasdair Dickinson
What they offer: The Scotland international is an all-rounder. He commits to rucks, will not make coaches worry at scrum time, and has a good set of hands to add to the attacking game.
Likelihood of Leaving: Dickinson has played at multiple clubs, meaning he is a man who doesn’t mind joining a new team, and with Edinburgh not looking like a side heading for success, Dickinson could leave for a more successful team to prepare for a Scotland World Cup campaign.
Who should sign them: A side capable of achieving a top half league position, ensuring they have something to offer Dickinson which Edinburgh unfortunately can’t. Possibly a side with European Cup qualification.
Name: Sona Taumalolo
What they offer: The speedster (yes, a front row speedster) is one of my favourite players. Not only does he offer pace, a good work rate, and dependable enough scrummaging, but his character is brilliant as well. His passion and determination is clear on his face when playing most games. The Tongan will not only be an asset on the pitch, but also off it.
Likelihood of Leaving: With Perpignan relegated, Taumalolo is likely to leave to prepare for the World Cup in a top division. Now could be a great chance to pick up a world class prop for a cheap price.
Who should sign them: Any side would benefit from the Tongan international, especially a side wanting another forward ball carrier.