SCARLETS MAY BE IN FOR A PENNEY
ROB Penney has emerged as the favourite to succeed Wayne Pivac as the Scarlets’ head coach.
The 54-year-old New Zealander spent two years in charge of Munster and was named coach of the season in what was then the Guinness PRO12 in 2014.
Since then he has been working at Japanese side NTT Communications Shining Arcs.
Pivac will leave the Scarlets to take over as Wales boss from Warren Gatland after the 2019 World Cup and current Scarlets backs coach Stephen Jones will follow him into the international set-up.
It’s left the Scarlets hierarchy to look for replacements, with New Zealand the primary area of focus.
Scarlets general manager Jon Daniels has confirmed the Llanelli-based outfit have a shortlist of up to six coaching candidates with a decision to be announced in the coming weeks.
It is understood Penney is at the top of that list and a final decision will be made over the next fortnight.
The Scarlets are searching for a coach who holds a similar philosophy to Pivac and who is willing to embrace the free-flowing brand of rugby the region have played in recent seasons.
Penney fits that bill having enjoyed tremendous success as head coach of Canterbury, whom he led to four successive ITM Cup titles.
He has also been at the helm of the Junior All Blacks.
While Jones will join Pivac with Wales, there will still be an element of continuity in the backroom team.
Forwards coach Ioan Cunningham and defence guru Byron Hayward are both set to remain in Llanelli, while Stormers backs coach Paul Feeney remains a contender to take charge of the attack having spent time in Llanelli over the past few weeks.
Should he take the Scarlets reins, Penney will be boosted by an increased budget after the region set themselves the target of becoming the first Welsh side to win the Champions Cup.
Under a new agreement between the Welsh Rugby Union and its regions, all four sides have agreed specific goals with the governing body in order to receive a greater level of funding.
The Scarlets have set an ambitious plan to conquer Europe by investing extra cash in a bumper squad. “It (winning the Champions Cup) is a target under the new set-up which has been agreed upon between ourselves and the WRU,” said Pivac.
“Each region is looking at what they want to achieve. It’s a goal of ours to win the Champions Cup.
“Is that achievable on the current budget? I’d be very surprised.
“It’s about how much funding we are prepared to put into it as a collective. We are working towards what we need and there is a lot of good work going on behind the scenes.
“Our budget is definitely going up next season and it’s heading in the right direction.
“We know which positions we need to fill and if we are serious about making an assault on Europe, then there are still weaknesses in the squad which we need to fill up.
“We’ve identified those positions. We’ve got to get some serious money in and go after some serious players.”
Jamie Lewis threw superb darts on his way to reaching the quarter-finals in Vienna.
Wayne Pivac becomes Wales coach next year.