Lima Sopoaga's premature departure from New Zealand exposed holes in the All Blacks' first five-eighth plans.

But it has hardly done Sopoaga much good either, reputation wise, with The Times labelling him the worst buy of the just-completed English premiership season.

Rubbing salt into the wounds, the man he replaced at Wasps - Danny Cipriani - has just been named the premiership's best player after his move to Gloucester.

The 28-year-old Sopoaga is reportedly getting $1m a season at Wasps, who he joined in September after a wonderful 88-game career with the Highlanders.


Times rugby writers Owen Slot and Alex Lowe said Sopoaga had made a "long and painful" entry into English and European rugby and had "failed to make an impact".

"If Gloucester signing Danny Cipriani is everyone's player of the season, the worst piece of business now appears to have been done at Wasps, where they let him go…bringing in Sopoaga instead," they wrote.

"No one said at the time that this was anything other than an outstanding recruit. Maybe next season it will be, but he needs renewed confidence and a lot of work on his defence."

Former Blues and All Black prop John Afoa was named in The Times premiership team of the year.

"If anybody thought that the former All Black was heading from Gloucester to Bristol for one last pay day before retirement, he has proved them wrong. Afoa is still on top of his game," the wrote.

"There are few tight-head scrummagers in the premiership to rival him in the set piece but he was also making age-defying line breaks. "

Coach Pat Lam and former All Blacks and Blues players Charles Piutau and Steven Luatua, who all hail from the Auckland-based Blues, won plaudits for their contributions at newly promoted Bristol.

"They brought a rocking stadium, too, and a brand of rugby that never stopped entertaining, even when the conservative option seemed the better one," The Times opined.