The countdown for the start of the MLR 2020 season is well and truly underway and there have been several shrewd signings made by MLR sides since the end of last season. The two most high profile signings so far have to be New Zealand All Black star Ma’a Nonu signing for the San Diego Legion and World Cup winner Tendai “The Beast” Mtawarira signing for Old Glory DC.
Several other teams throughout the league have been busy adding established international players to their roster who will undoubtedly add to the quality not only to their respective teams but also to the league in general.
Check out below for USRN’s top signings for the MLR 2020 season;
Ma’a Nonu – San Diego Legion
With 103 caps for the All Blacks, 2 World Cups and 5 Tri Nations titles the signing of Nonu is a major deal. Nonu’s stature and status back in his native New Zealand is such that he was awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit for his accomplishments in rugby. Nonu is an explosive player which serious pace and power but also he has a serious step in his repertoire as was evident in the 2015 Rugby World Cup final when he danced through the Australian defence to score a wonderful solo try.
Tendai Mtawarira – Old Glory DC
Affectionately known as The Beast back in South Africa, viewers will get used to the home fans shouting ‘Beeeaaaast’ whenever he gets on the ball. Like Nonu, Mtawarira is a World Cup winner having helped The Springboks claim their third Rugby World Cup in 2019. Mtawarira brings a wealth of talent with him to DC having accumulated 117 caps for South Africa. Mtawarira will bring immense power and stability to the Old Glory pack given his strength and technical ability in the scrum which is all the more impressive given that he started out as a back row forward.
Mathieu Bastareaud – RUNY
RUNY announced the signing of the French giant in what seems like a lifetime ago in April of last year. Bastareaud has won 54 caps for the French national team and featured in last year’s Six Nation’s Championship when he was drafted in against England. The big center has also proven his intellect for the game allows him to fill in other positions having slotted in at number 8 at Lyon. More than likely Bastareaud will remain in the backline for RUNY but it could be a useful alternative for the New York team in a scrum close to the try line.
Kensuke Hatakeyama – New England Free Jacks
The experienced Japan international brings a wealth of experience with him to the Boston outfit, having racked up 78 caps for the Cherry Blossoms making him the 4th most capped Japanese international of all time. Hatakeyama was an integral part of the Japan team who defeated South Africa in the 2015 World Cup, dubbed ‘The Miracle match’. During this game, Hatakeyama faced his toughest test scrummaging down against the Beast Tendai Mtawarira. It will be interesting to see how the two match up against each other in the MLR this season.
Juan Manuel Leguizamón – Seattle Seawolves
Leguizamón is another signing who brings a ton of experience with 87 caps for Los Pumas to his name. With an international career that starts from 2005, Leguizamón has played in 4 World Cups. Aswell as captaining Argentina on occasion, he also brings club experience to the north west having played in the Premiership with London Irish and the Top14 with Stade Francais and Lyon. Primarily a flanker or number 8, Leguizamón is the epitome of the modern day back row forward with good footwork and a slight of hand.