Two more Kiwis have landed to try their hand in the Guinness Premiership. All Black lock Chris Jack arrived yesterday morning at Saracens and in the afternoon Newcastle paraded prop Carl Hayman.
Jack, who met his Saracens team-mates at their training ground in St Albans yesterday, is being shielded from the media spotlight but is likely to make his club debut in the Guinness A League match against Bath on Monday.
Hayman is being lined up for his debut at Wasps on Saturday: "I'm ready to play," he said. "I haven't played for a wee while, and there's no substitute for game fitness, so it might take me two or three matches to get back to where I should be." And he hinted that yet another New Zealander, outside half Dan Carter, could be on his way to the northern hemisphere.
"I think there's every chance," he said. "That is the way rugby is turning out. There are a lot of international players in Europe."
If tighthead Hayman, who is rumoured to have agreed a deal worth more than 700,000 over two and a half years, does play in the EDF Energy Cup at Wycombe he will almost certainly be joined by England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson.
Wilkinson has not played since the Rugby World Cup final after suffering a twisted ankle. He was ordered to take a complete break in order to make a full recovery, otherwise there was a danger the injury could have become a chronic condition.
Hayman is clearly an admirer. He said: "It's great to have guys like Wilko at the club. He's a bit of an icon in world rugby."
But so too is Hayman. He is widely regarded as the best prop in either hemisphere, although he rejected the label, saying: "It's a funny old tag, that one. It doesn't mean much to me when people say it, and it certainly doesn't affect the way I do things. If anything it might serve to fire up the opposition, so it's not something that's on my radar at all."
What has been on his radar is playing for Newcastle. "I talked to a number of people about Newcastle and they said what a friendly place it is. It's not a big city and is a bit like Dunedin. And to get up here, have a bit of countryside and be able to drive around was a factor in the decision. I like the outdoors. I like to get out there. Deer stalking is one of my favourite pastimes."
Another international front-row forward in the news is Bristol's England hooker Mark Regan, who was confirmed as captain when the Barbarians named their team to take on South Africa at Twickenham on Saturday. Regan faces punitive action from his club, and Premier Rugby Ltd said that if he played then they would order an inquiry into the reasons for his defiance of an agreement by all 12 Premiership clubs to refuse to release players for the fixture.
The other "rebel", Sale Sharks' Andrew Sheridan decided to put club before the 4,000 appearance money and will play in tomorrow night's important Cup tie against Leicester.Reuse content