This season of Premiership rugby is so exciting and engaging to watch, but some of the planned transfers mean I already cannot wait for next year.
After Sale Sharks confirmed the signing of Tom O’Flaherty from Exeter Chiefs, it made me think just what the north west club could achieve in 2022-23.
The signature of the winger follows that of former No1 England fly-half George Ford and British and Irish Lion Jonny Hill.
Sale, under Alex Sanderson, are really starting to build a strong squad up that already includes the Curry brothers and talented young scrum-half Raffi Quirke.
That said, we’re not sure yet about the destiny of the club’s South African contingent, who have been at the core of much the club does well.
If they can keep their squad together and add in this English talent, they could be a formidable outfit next season.
Speaking of which, the once scary Chiefs’ exodus continues. Before this week’s announcement of O’Flaherty’s departure, they’d already lost Hill, Sam Skinner and Sean Lonsdale – all talented lads.
Chiefs reported a loss of over £6m this week, as you’d expect many clubs to do given the effects of the pandemic.
But you wonder whether, in the way that all good things come to an end, the successful Chiefs cycle is naturally shifting now.
Director of rugby Rob Baxter’s contract finishes after next season and he could easily find his way in the England set-up. Could some of their players be looking for new challenges even though they’re hardly out of contention?
In a quick round-up elsewhere, I think Bristol Bears look set, having signed Ellis Genge and AJ MacGinty, but they may struggle in international windows when Genge and fellow prop Kyle Sinckler both head to England duty.
Leicester Tigers are nicely poised to push on with Handre Pollard coming in, while we’re yet to see a full list of what Steve Diamond will be adding to Worcester.
Back to this exhilarating season of action, and the top four. We have seen Tigers qualify just weeks after their salary cap breach was confirmed and I don’t think Saracens will be too far behind.
As for the other spots, there’s Harlequins, Exeter, Sale, Gloucester and London Irish in the mix.
I think Quins will be there, and I would probably put my mortgage on Exeter to get fourth. Though Gloucester have a second game in hand, I just think Chiefs’ experience will stand them in good stead.
Former England Sevens captain Ollie Phillips is the founder of Optimist Performance, experts in leadership development and behavioural change. Follow Ollie on Twitter and on LinkedIn.