England-qualified New Zealand rugby league international Hape quit Bradford Bulls for the west country earlier this year, following a path previously trodden by Gloucester wing Lesley Vainikolo. Likely to start in the centre for Bath, who can only hope he will prove more successful than another of their recent league acquisitions, Chev Walker. Hape also has a history of knee trouble.

Quality tighthead props continue to be worth their weight in gold, but they assume priceless proportions if they arrive with 62 New Zealand caps behind them. Somerville, already clued up on the International Rugby Board’s controversial experimental law variations following a summer of Super 14 and Tri-Nations action, looks tailor-made for a successful Guinness Premiership career.

Wales international Watkins is not in the superstar bracket of some Premiership arrivals this summer, but Gloucester might just have landed a prime catch. Had his fair share of injuries, but a fit, firing Watkins would threaten any defence with his pace and power. Has played on the wing, yet expect to see him bursting through the outside centre channel at Kingsholm.

NICK EVANS (Harlequins)
Long Test careers tend not to materialise when you are Dan Carter’s All Blacks understudy, yet Evans has arrived in south-west London with a worthy reputation as an accomplished fly-half playmaker and tactician. Harlequins are making great strides under Dean Richards, and Evans’ class should add another dimension to a flourishing squad.

Hougaard, who helped the Pretoria-based Blue Bulls land last year’s Super 14 title, has quit South Africa to link up again with his former coach Heyneke Meyer, now in charge at Leicester. The 25-year-old won eight caps for the Springboks, and he has been recruited by Tigers to fill the void left by points machine Andy Goode’s departure to Brive. Time will tell whether or not Hougaard is the right man for the job.

NEIL BEST (Northampton)
Northampton, inevitably, have made numerous visits to the transfer market, strengthening their squad for an eagerly-awaited Premiership return following their unbeaten National League One title-winning campaign last term. Saints will need to be up to speed from scratch, and in all-action Irish flanker Best they have recruited a fearless player who will not budge an inch in the heat of battle. He is the type of player you want on your team, not the opposition’s.

BEN FODEN (Northampton)
Several astute judges rated Foden among the Premiership’s most exciting talents last season, and it was hard to disagree after some thrilling displays from full-back for Sale Sharks. Having migrated south to Franklin’s Gardens, it appears Foden will perform scrum-half duties for the Saints, a move that could ultimately attract interest from several quarters, including England manager Martin Johnson.

MATHEW TAIT (Sale Sharks)
When will people, England included, stop messing about and play the exhilarating Tait consistently at outside centre? Having quit Newcastle for Sale three months ago, a new challenge beckons, but one wonders whether Sharks see him in one position or as a “utility” man capable of filling several. If commonsense prevails, he will be handed the number 13 shirt.

DWAYNE PEEL (Sale Sharks)
Muscled out of the way by scrum-half rival Mike Phillips’ physical presence when Wales won the RBS 6 Nations title last term, and a move from Stradey Park to Edgeley Park might just see the former Llanelli star rediscover an edge in his game. World-class when in top form, which is exactly what Sale knew when they signed him.

Saracens moved quickly to recruit quality following England World Cup winner Richard Hill’s retirement from the game he graced for so long, and Van Heerden is a hard-nosed South Africa flanker who will relish the Premiership’s unforgiving environment. Saracens have made their fair share of dud overseas signings, but Van Heerden is good enough to tick all the boxes.

At 34, former French Test star Betsen’s best years are surely behind him, but Wasps know he is still comfortably good enough to do a job for them during a campaign when they will regularly lose flankers Tom Rees and James Haskell because of England business. Betsen’s move to London might have raised eyebrows in some quarters, yet Wasps rarely get anything wrong.

CHRIS LATHAM (Worcester)
Only David Campese has scored more tries for Australia than new Worcester arrival Latham, and the supremely-talented Queenslander often makes full-back play appear an art form. If he can avoid the dreaded injury curse that has plagued him at times, then a Warriors back division containing the likes of Latham, Rico Gear, Miles Benjamin and Sam Tuitupou will be worth travelling miles to see.