The Waratahs have finally reversed the flow and recruited a Wallabies player for next season, with 25-Test forward Ned Hanigan agreeing to terms ahead of a return to NSW for next season.
Hanigan has spent the past six months plying his trade for second division Japanese Top League side Kurita Water Gush but with the lower tier competition now complete, sources close to the 25-year-old told the Herald he will return to Sydney in May.
Sources with knowledge of the situation confirmed Hanigan has agreed to terms with NSW but he’s not expected to be available for the trans-Tasman portion of the Super Rugby season.
When his contract is registered for the 2022 Super Rugby season, it will ensure he’s available for selection in the Wallabies squad that Dave Rennie picks to face France in July.
The blond-haired Wallaby was one of several internationals to depart Daceyville at the end of last season.
The departure of Michael Hooper, Kurtley Beale, Rob Simmons, Karmichael Hunt, Tom Robertson, Tom Staniforth, Jed Holloway and Hanigan has left an incredibly inexperienced squad for the 2021 season and the club has subsequently failed to record a win through its first six games.
While the expected return of Lachie Swinton against the Force on Friday week will give interim co-coaches Jason Gilmore and Chris Whitaker a selection headache in the back row, Hanigan will fill the position the Waratahs desperately need to bolster – lock.
Young guns Max Douglas and Jeremy Williams were very good in the two-point loss to the Brumbies but Hanigan’s return will bring years of experience and physicality to the position.
On a national front, Hanigan played five Tests – including four starts at No. 6 – under Rennie last year and given his versatility, he would be a handy addition to the squad which face rising European power France in July.