10 best rugby signings this season including England star and Wales sensation

Rugby union is quickly catching up to football in its treatment of transfers, with club-hopping gradually becoming a more accepted aspect of the modern sport.

But not all signings produce to the level they're expected, and it can often be the highest-profile movers that have the furthest to fall if they fail to meet expectations.

Likewise, under-the-radar transfers have the capacity to surprise the most, a number of whom make the cut as some of the best-performing signings thus far in the 2021/22 campaign.

Looking at this past summer's business in the Premiership, United Rugby Championship and France's Top 14, Mirror Sport considers who among those trading allegiances have impressed most following their first few months in new surroundings.

Vaea Fifita – Hurricanes to Wasps

Crashing and bounding his way into contention as arguably the best piece of business in the Premiership this past off-season, Wasps lock Vaea Fifita has taken to England's top tier like the proverbial duck to water.

The 12-cap New Zealand international—who was born in Tonga and qualifies to swap Test teams next year under World Rugby's new eligibility laws —has thrived since moving to Coventry after six years with the Hurricanes in Wellington.

Fifita, 29, has added all the line-breaking, ball-offloading talents one might expect of a 6'5", 17-stone former All Black, but it's his surprising turn of pace once he gets in stride that's led to two tries in his first eight games for Wasps.

Who do you think has been the best rugby signing this season? Let us know in the comments section.

Anthony Jelonch – Castres to Toulouse

How does one respond after losing one of the best flankers rugby has ever produced in Jerome Kaino? If you're Toulouse, you go to a direct rival in Castres and sign one of France's major up-and-comers named Anthony Jelonch.

Almost a carbon copy of the New Zealand great in physical dimensions, Jelonch has scored four tries in nine appearances for the reigning Top 14 and Champions Cup titleholders, adding to a back row that had few weaknesses already.

Will Rowlands – Wasps to Dragons

It's indicative of Will Rowlands' impact since moving to Newport that his contribution hasn't just been felt by Dragons, but also by a Wales side so desperately seeking out the successor to a certain Alun Wyn Jones.

The 6'8" lock's move to Rodney Parade from Wasps always looked like something of a coup, and despite the fact Dragons are still sorely lacking in results, he hasn't failed to disappoint as a vital pack addition.

Juarno Augustus – Stormers to Northampton Saints

One of two South African investments that have worked out mightily well for Northampton Saints so far this season, former Stormers powerhouse Juarno Augustus wasted little time in bolting his way into Chris Boyd's line-up.

After a transition phase, the 116-kilogram juggernaut known as 'Trokkie' now looks relatively immovable as the Saints' No. 8 of choice, bouncing off defenders for fun in much the same fashion as he did back in Newlands.

The return of a fit-again Teimana Harrison will add a new level of competition for the 24-year-old, but it's possible Premiership title contenders Northampton have stumbled on a back-row staple for some years to come.

Jac Morgan – Scarlets to Ospreys

It almost seems unfair just how blessed Wales are when it comes to back-row options, and Ospreys marvel Jac Morgan is but the latest openside sensation who looks ready for senior honours.

In truth, the recruit from Scarlets could feel aggrieved his chance didn't come in the autumn, but such is the level of competition in his specialist area of the pack.

Scarlets reasoning their own strength in depth at openside led to Morgan chasing his first-team opportunities in Swansea, where the 21-year-old has only improved his all-action game studying under Justin Tupiric.

Paolo Garbisi – Benetton to Montpellier

Knowing that first-choice fly-half Handre Pollard would effectively miss the first half of this season, Montpellier head coach Philippe Saint-Andre set his sights high in sourcing a back-up with first-rate potential in Benetton's Paolo Garbisi.

The effects have been tremendous, too, as Les Cistes have gone from last season's 10th-place finish to third in the Top 14 heading into Christmas, suggesting there is indeed cause for hope when Pollard joins Leicester Tigers next year.

Garbisi, 21, stands out as a genuinely classy prospect amid Italy 's squad and is currently one of only five players to have accrued 100 points in the Top 14 this term, playing a saviour role as Montpellier have stormed back into title contention.

Benhard Janse van Rensburg – Green Rockets Tokatsu to London Irish

Japan has increased its scope in recent years as something of a lucrative haven for the elite, but Benhard Janse van Rensburg's success at London Irish is proof there's valuable deals to be done on behalf of the European suitors as well.

The former Sharks and Cheetahs centre has slotted in well among Declan Kidney's ranks following a short stint at Green Rockets Tokatsu, and the 24-year-old is starting to add more attacking menace to his superb defensive skill-set.

Courtnall Skosan – Lions to Northampton Saints

Courtnall Skosan has spoken openly of how well his family have fit into English life since leaving South Africa in the summer, and his on-field performances are also the mark of a man who's at ease in his surroundings.

Fans at Franklin's Gardens will agree the former Lions star—capped 12 times for the Springboks —has adapted well with Northampton Saints, having crossed the whitewash nine times in his first eight appearances for the Premiership outfit.

That included a debut hat-trick against Worcester Warriors and scores in back-to-back Champions Cup fixtures, cementing his spot as one of the new danger men starring among Europe's elite.

Zach Mercer – Bath to Montpellier

Garbisi isn't the only new face at GGL Stadium who has helped turn Montpellier's fortunes under former France chief Philippe Saint-Andre this season, a feat in which twice-capped England international Zach Mercer can also say he's had a major hand.

It's far less common for English players to cross the Channel for experience in the Top 14, but Mercer is thriving after his Bath exit this summer and has few reasons for regret—especially given his old side's struggles at the base of the Premiership since he left.

Mercer, 24, said he opted for change after not hearing from England boss Eddie Jones "for a long time," and the call looks justified after he has featured prominently for Montpellier and impressed as their first-choice No. 8.

Adam Hastings – Glasgow Warriors to Gloucester

Adam Hastings' first Premiership stint with Bath may have been fairly unremarkable, but after honing his craft with Glasgow Warriors for four seasons, the Scotland international looks a different quantity altogether at Gloucester.

While it would be unfair to blame fellow fly-half Lloyd Evans for the fact the Cherry and Whites started their Premiership season 0-2, there has also been a marked improvement since Hastings took the No. 10 jersey in Week 3.

Only four players in England's top tier have more than his 69 points this term despite starting late, and Hastings—son of British and Irish Lions legend Gavin—looks the royal heir after Danny Cipriani left midway through the last campaign.

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