The Premiership's Top 15 GREATEST foreign imports featuring Ayerza, Brits, and Evans

The Premiership’s Top 15 GREATEST imports featuring Ayerza, Brits, and Evans

Imagine if the last 20 years of English club rugby had passed without a single player from overseas – let alone the rest of Britain and Ireland – featuring in the Premiership.

How immeasurably more boring would our sporting lives would have been.

So, in the past 20 years, who have been the best 15 overseas signings to grace this country’s pitches? RUCK gives it a go:

15. George Smith

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No player was able to make such an impact in such a short space of time. Moving to Wasps ahead of the the 2015-16 season, Smith won a number of awards; including Wasps’ Players’ Player of the Year, Wasps’ Player of the Year, Aviva Premiership Players’ Player of the Year and Green Flag Forward of the Season. During his spell in England, Smith was also involved in the England coaching setup during the 2016 Six Nations Championship. He’s now back in the Premiership with Bristol Bears.

14. Francois Pienaar

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The legendary Springbok captain, who famously won the Rugby World Cup on home soil in 1995, made the move to Saracens in 1997. Under his leadership, they defeated the London Wasps to win the Pilkington Cup and also finished second in the Zurich Premiership. During the next two seasons, they secured third and fourth spots in the Zurich Premiership, thereby qualifying for the European Cup on consecutive campaigns.

13. Matt Burke 
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The Wallabies legend joined Newcastle Falcons in 2004 after retiring from international rugby. Here he has played alongside former English rival Jonny Wilkinson (his opposite kicker in Lions tour of Australia). He has also won the ‘Player of the Year’ at the Falcons and was named as captain of the side. Rediscovering his best form, the Wallabies wanted to recall Burke, but he rejected this, citing his commitments Newcastle.

12. Bruce Reihana

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An undisputed fans’ favourite, Reihana pulled on the black, green and gold 236 times in a nine-year career at the Saints, becoming only the fifth player to score over 1,000 points for the club in the process. An All Black upon joining the club in 2002, it was the full back’s exciting style with ball in hand and charismatic grin off the field that endeared him to the Saints faithful. Captain for three seasons, Reihana lifted the Challenge Cup in 2009 following a National One and National Trophy double in 2008, while he was also part of the squad that won the LV= Cup in 2010 and reached the 2011 Heineken Cup final.

11. Pat Lam

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In his first season at Newcastle, he made 22 appearances as they won the 1997-98 Premiership. However, after that triumph he moved on to Northampton Saints, with whom he won the 1999–2000 Heineken Cup Lam moved back to Newcastle Falcons for the 2001–02 season, playing with the club for a year before retiring.