Ten signings to watch in the PRO12

Date published: September 1 2016

On the eve of the new PRO12 season, we pick out ten signings to follow over the next nine months.

Nick Williams (Cardiff Blues): Ulster supporters were sad to see this talismanic figure exit Kingspan Stadium at the end of last season. Williams is such a tough man to bring down and Cardiff Blues have got themselves a real focal point to base their forward effort around this campaign. On and off the field, this is a signing that will improve the team spirit at the Blues as he rarely lets his squad down.

Matthew Morgan (Cardiff Blues): Good luck to opposing outfits travelling to Cardiff Arms Park where Morgan is set to cut loose from the opening round until the last. Signed from Bristol after playing Championship rugby last season, Morgan is looking to push his case for international honours in 2016/17. With Gareth Anscombe now firmly at number 10 in Cardiff, Morgan will certainly get plenty of minutes at full-back.

Robbie Henshaw (Leinster): After almost five years in Galway, departing Connacht after winning the PRO12 title was surely an unexpected occurrence for Henshaw and one that made it that bit tougher to leave. He signed on the dotted line though and will hope to forge a good partnership with fly-half Jonathan Sexton this season. Even at 23, a lot is expected of Henshaw after such a bright start to his career.

Bradley Davies (Ospreys): A surprise pick, maybe, as Kieron Fonotia is also set to boost the Ospreys' midfield options, but Davies joins from Wasps and will add to an already strong looking pack. We like the look of this set of forwards that includes Alun-Wyn Jones, Tyler Ardron, Dan Lydiate, Justin Tipuric, Sam Underhill and Dan Baker and with Davies' drive added to the lock mix, they look a powerful unit.

Johnny McNicholl (Scarlets): Once he arrives from Canterbury this wing or full-back should settle in no time at all. McNicholl was flying in Super Rugby for the Crusaders as he made a tournament high 31 clean breaks. He also made 915 metres with ball in hand which will whet the appetite of Scarlets supporters, particularly with DTH van der Merwe on the other touchline and Liam Williams wearing the 15 jersey.

Rhys Patchell (Scarlets): Patchell made the move from Cardiff Blues in the off-season and with regular game-time at fly-half he is set to progress as a player under head coach Wayne Pivac. With Gareth Davies alongside him at scrum-half and the aforementioned backline talent above, this is a squad full of talent. Patchell is a good creator, defends well and has searing pace that will excite the Scarlets faithful.

Marty Banks (Treviso): Another player arriving in the PRO12 from New Zealand once the Mitre 10 Cup concludes is fly-half Banks. He said that when he heard Treviso were interested he snapped up the chance of European rugby, which is great news for a squad that endured its worst season to date in 2015/16. A solid goal-kicker, leader and real personality on the field, Treviso have got themselves a top player.

Charles Piutau (Ulster): Arguably the signing of the PRO12 off-season as Piutau was in outstanding form for Wasps last term. He's already given the Ulster supporters a glimpse of his unique talents in pre-season and more will come in the coming months. Still just 24 years of age, Piutau still has plenty to learn but with that term at Wasps already in his locker, Ulster are set to benefit in droves in 2016/17.

Marcell Coetzee (Ulster): Currently out injured with a knee injury he suffered playing for the Sharks, Coetzee will not make his Ulster debut for some time yet. When he does though the province will enjoy his talents as he is a powerful operator who never lets up in both attack and defence. If Ulster can get both Piutau and Coetzee firing in 2017 then they'll definitely have a chance of lifting silverware.

Derick Minnie (Zebre): An uncompromising flanker for so many years in Johannesburg for the Golden Lions and Lions, Minnie decided to take up a new venture this season as he moves to Zebre. If opposing teams don't know about his talents yet they will do very quickly as Minnie dominates the tackle in possession and is fierce around the ruck and set-piece. A shrewd signing, he also knows his way to the try-line.