Super Rugby player transfers for 2022 season

After months of discussions and plenty of rumours, SANZAAR have announced the formalized competition structure for the 2022 Super Rugby season, including the confirmation of two new teams; Moana Pasifika and Fiji Drua.

But while clubs were waiting it didn't stop them from locking in the final pieces of their playing squads.

Stay across all the signings, re-signings and departures below.


Aussie 7s star signs with Waratahs

Australian sevens star Dylan Pietsch has signed a two-year deal to play in the sky-blue at the Waratahs from 2022.

A proud Aboriginal Australian, Pietsch played rugby at The Kings School before he was signed into the Australia sevens program straight out of high school in 2017 and has been a mainstay of the squad culminating in an appearance at the Tokyo Olympics.

Despite playing sevens over the last four years, Pietsch's background is in the 15-man game, where he represented GPS and NSW playing in the backrow before he joined Randwick in Sydney's Shute Shield making his first grade debut as a 19-year-old.

While he has previous experience in the backrow, he hopes to make an impact from the wing for the Waratahs.

"For me I've always wanted to play Super Rugby, it's always been a big goal of mine," Pietsch said.

"To be able to do it where I live and have a lot of mates currently playing was a major factor in me signing here and hopefully, I'll get to fulfill a childhood dream of playing Super Rugby in a Waratahs jersey.

"The challenge for me is being quicker in my decision making, in sevens you have a lot more time to read options in attack and defence, whereas in the 15-man game the field is more compressed, and you have to adjust quicker to limited space and smaller opportunities.

"I think wing is probably where I want to start off, I only moved to the backs last year so I want to knuckle down on the wing position and then hopefully I can move around after that."

Pietsch is one of new Waratahs coach Darren Coleman's first signings, with the sevens star catching Coleman's eye during his time in Shute Shield.

"I've been really impressed with his performances and the impact he made in the Shute Shield for Randwick in between his seven's events," Coleman said

"He's a fast, skilful ball runner with experience playing in big pressure matches and is a great addition to the team.

"I'm really looking forward to getting to know and work with Dylan."


Brumbies sign Samoa fly-half Rod Iona

The Brumbies have announced the signing of their former playmaker Rod Iona for the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific season.

Iona made his debut with the club in 2014 against the Waratahs and returned to the franchise in 2021 to train while helping to guide Tuggeranong Vikings to first place in the John I Dent Cup.

The 30-year-old showcased his class when he led Manu Samoa during their recent Test campaign, leading his national team to 2023 Rugby World Cup qualification.

"I'm honoured to be joining the Brumbies squad again for next season," Iona said.

"Being around the group this year, wearing the colours everyday again, it just felt right so I'm just grateful and humbled to have earned this chance again with the Brumbies.

"I'm fortunate to have played rugby in France, England and at home but this has always been a special place to me and being back in the community, with my family at Vikings, it's been amazing.

"We've got an outstanding group here, lots of young talent in the squad and I'll play whatever role within that group that's asked of me for the team."


Chiefs bring in Josh Ioane

The Chiefs have added to their strong squad, signing the recently released Josh Ioane to their ranks.

The Chiefs pounced quickly on the Maori All Black playmaker, signing him just a day after he was released from his final year from the Highlanders.

Ioane had been a regular starter for the Highlanders since his signing in 2018, filling in for departed Lima Sopoaga and played fullback for the club in their losing Super Rugby Trans-Tasman final in 2021.

"I've loved my time with the Highlanders and am grateful for everything they've done for me" Ioane said in a statement.

"However, I'm excited to link up with the Chiefs whānau, they've built an amazing culture up there from what I've heard and I admire what the Gallagher Chiefs are about. Hopefully I am able to add something to that environment."

Ioane played one Test for the All Blacks against Tonga in 2019 and also played for the Maori All Blacks.

Chiefs coach Clayton McMillan is excited to bring Ioane to the team after spending time with him at the Maori All Blacks, and said his arrival would bring "a healthy edge to a team environment".

Highlanders sign Banks to replace Ioane

Banks has made his return to the Highlanders, coming in as a replacement for Josh Ioane just two years after he last played for the franchise.

Banks, who has been playing for Southland in the national provincial competition, had his first sting with the Highlanders between 2015 and 2017. He then joined the Benetton club in Italy, prior to returning to New Zealand to play for the Highlanders in 2019.

The 31-year-old believes he still has the ability to make an impact for the Dunedin-based club after he was previously played at the Red Hurricanes in Japan.

"I returned from Japan with the hope that maybe I could pick up a Super Rugby contract and I am stoked that Brownie still has faith in me to do the job,'' Banks said in a statement.

"I believe I am at a pretty good stage in my career, I know my own game well and hopefully I have enough experience to be able to make a real contribution to the way the Highlanders play and the squad in general.

"I can't wait to get back under the roof in Dunedin, I've always enjoyed the place and the fans, so roll on 2022."


Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi leaves Chiefs for a one-year deal at Crusaders

The Crusaders have further bolstered their squad by signing former All Blacks half-back Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi.

Tahuriorangi last appeared for the All Blacks in 2018 and has since struggled for game-time at the Chiefs behind All Blacks half-back Brad Weber, who re-signed through to the 2023 World Cup.

With plenty of young talent knocking at the door in Waikato, the Chiefs chose to release Tahuriorangi which opened the door for the Crusaders to pick him up for 2022.

The 26-year-old started his professional career with Taranaki and the Hurricanes, before moving to the Chiefs. He now plays for Bay of Plenty and joins established half-backs Bryn Hall and Mitchell Drummond at the Crusaders.

Crusaders coach Scott Robertson worked previously with Tahuriorangi in 2015 with the championship-winning New Zealand under-20s team and is confident he can return him to his previous form.

"When he's on top of his game we know he's All Blacks level," Robertson told New Zealand Herald. "He's experienced, he's grateful for this opportunity. The last couple of years have been tough for him with game time. We back ourselves to get the best out of our people and he knows that."


Wallaby Hanigan set for Waratahs return

The NSW Waratahs have further bolstered their playing roster with the re-signing of Wallabies loose forward Ned Hanigan for the 2022 Super Rugby season.

Currently contracted to Kurita Water Gush in the Japanese Top League, Hanigan will return to Sydney after he completes his commitments in Japan, most likely in April.

The 26-year-old back-rower is a product of the NSW pathways, progressing from club rugby in Randwick and NSW Country in the NRC to making his debut for the Waratahs in 2016 and representing the side on 43 occasions.

Hanigan went on to make his Test debut in 2017 against Fiji under Michael Cheika and was a key part of Dave Rennie's squad last season, playing in five of the Wallabies' six Tests.

His Test experience and ability to also play in the second row ensures he will be a key part of the Waratahs' forward pack in 2022.

Hanigan was excited to return to his home state and thrilled to have the chance to return to the NSW Waratahs.

I'm very grateful that the Waratahs have welcomed me back," Hanigan said.

Hanigan's return continues a busy week for recruitment for the Waratahs, who will also welcome back versatile forward Jed Holloway next year.

The Tahs also announced the retention of exciting backs Alex Newsome, Mark Nawaqanitawase and Lalakai Foketi.


Holloway heading back to Waratahs

NSW Waratahs have continued their recruitment drive, luring versatile forward Jed Holloway back to Sydney on a two-year Super Rugby deal.

Holloway, with 58 NSW caps, left the Waratahs at the end of the 2020 season and spent the past year in Japan playing alongside former teammate and Wallabies captain Michael Hooper at Toyota Verblitz.

The 28-year-old said he was grateful for the chance to return to his home state and is excited to link up with new head coach Darren Coleman.

"Ever since I started playing rugby, I wanted to be a Waratah. The team gave me a huge opportunity 10 years ago and I'm extremely grateful that they are willing to take another chance on me now," Holloway said.

"Both the Waratahs and myself have a lot to prove next year but I believe we have all the pieces to make it happen.

"I learned a lot from some great people in Japan and I'm excited to join the team and start putting that together.

"DC (Coleman) has nothing but success on his record, he is a proven culture builder."


Tuipulotu set for Japanese sabbatical as part of new deal

Blues captain Patrick Tuipulotu will take up a Japanese sabbatical in 2022, but he has committed his long-term future to Leon MacDonald's team.

Tuipulotu has re-signed with both New Zealand Rugby and the Blues through 2025, but he won't play any part in next year's Super Rugby competition.

Having created a similar situation for All Blacks star Beauden Barrett this year, Blues chief executive Andrew Hore said Tuipulotu also deserved the opportunity to experience playing rugby in another country and the financial incentives it can provide.

"It will be a tremendous experience for him. We recognise that the recompense to play overseas is significant and a key opportunity for Patrick and his family," he said.

"As we did with Beauden this year, we will plan for it, fill the gap as best we can, and look forward to his return in 2023 for a further three years.

"Patrick is a cornerstone of our playing group and I am sure the boys will want to do the job for him while he is away."

Tuipulotu guided the Blues to the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman title last month and while that helped push him over the line for a sabbatical next year he insists he still has plenty to achieve in both the blue and black jerseys in the future.

"In some ways winning the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman title has made my decision easier, because we have got that monkey off our backs at the Blues," he said.

"I am excited for the new experience overseas and will be doing my best. Equally, I will be looking forward to returning to the Blues and my home in Auckland.

"I have big goals that I want to achieve both for my country and the Blues in the future."

Mogg returns to Brumbies after six-year absence

Former fan favourite Jesse Mogg will make his return to Super Rugby in 2022.

The 32-year-old Mogg, who was a part of the Brumbies team that was beaten by the Chiefs in the Super Rugby 2013 final, has signed on for two seasons after spending the last six years in France with Montpellier and Pau.

Mogg's return is a another boost for a strong back three contingent at the Brumbies which already includes Wallabies Tom Banks and Tom Wright, and Andy Muirhead, who is also a part of Dave Rennie's current Test squad.

"I'm delighted to be returning home to Australia with the Brumbies," Mogg said.

"I've obviously kept an eye on how the team has been going since I've been away and I've been impressed with how they've continued to grow a strong culture and success on the field and I'm excited to be a part of the Brumbies again.

"Having a few familiar faces still at the club like Dan, Laurie and Whitey of course, will make it easier for me to transition back and I'm just really excited to rip into preseason."


Wright, Scott-Young to stay on at Ballymore

Key back-rowers Liam Wright and Angus Scott-Young have both signed contract extensions with the Queensland Reds.

Captain Wright and workhorse Scott-Young both passed 50 appearances for the Reds this year and will stay on at Ballymore until at least the end of the 2022 Super Rugby campaign.

Wright - who made his debut for the Wallabies in 2019 - endured a frustrating 2021 campaign with the 23-year-old sidelined for the majority of the season with a foot injury but he returned in time to play in Queensland's Super Rugby AU grand final win over the Brumbies.

The 24-year-old Scott-Young, the son of former Wallabies forward Sam Scott-Young, was one of only two players to feature in all 14 of Queensland's games in 2021, starting all but one.

Wright and Scott-Young are two of 11 Reds players to have signed new deals after their successful campaign this year.

Waratahs trio sign contract extensions

NSW backs Lalakai Foketi, Alex Newsome and Mark Nawaqanitawase have all signed on with the club for 2022

With coach Darren Coleman locked in on a three-year deal, the contract extensions of the backline trio is another boost on the road back from rock bottom for the Waratahs.

Foketi and Newsome have signed one-year deals while Nawaqanitawase has put pen to paper through 2023.

The club is expected to announce further re-signings in the coming days with reports a number of former club stalwarts are poised to return to Sydney.

Centre Foketi, who is a part of the Wallabies squad but is yet to make his Test debut, said he was excited about helping the club rebuild from a disastrous 2021.

"I'm loving playing at the Waratahs and deciding to extend my time here for another season was an easy decision," Foketi said.

"Although it hasn't been the best season in terms of results, I feel we're definitely heading in the right direction.

"It's an extremely tight knit group at the Waratahs and there is a real sense of excitement about what this team can achieve next season."