Carmarthen Journal - - Sport -

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.

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