Newcastle Falcons have signed French international centre Maxime Mermoz from Leicester Tigers for the beginning of next season.
Mermoz has 35 caps for his country while scoring three times for them, previous teams include Toulouse, Perpignan and Toulon where he fell out of favour.
Mermoz had to compete with fellow French international Mathieu Bastareaud who is mostly first choice at Toulon, along with ex All Black World-Cup winning legend Ma’a Nonu, 103 capped Australian stalwart Matt Giteau, and young Frenchman Jimmy Yobo.
To say competition was hard doesn’t do it justice, Mermoz was lacking in game-time and that’s exactly what he will hope to get in joining Newcastle Falcons.
Despite being a big signing, Mermoz will have to deliver if he wants to get a starting place. He’ll have to dislodge the likes of Argentina international Juan Pablo Socino who has had a great season at inside centre and outside centre, Chris Harris, who has always performed well.
Mermoz can play both inside and outside centre to a high standard, which isn’t common to find in premiership/international standard players.
Falcons bringing in a player of Maxime’s quality shows the direction the club is going in, their back-line for next season now includes 5 international players.
This quality is needed to get them going up the table, however, they are only six points off the top six and if they finish in the top six for next season, that would secure Champions Cup Rugby to Kingston Park.
If they qualify for the Champions Cup that certainly will make recruitment easier; something the fans have not seen since the days of Jonny Wilkinson.
Newcastle Falcons Director of Rugby Dean Richards spoke about how that made Maxime a more attractive player to bring in, due to his flexibility in playing either 12 or 13: