KIWI STAR EYES JA­PAN OP­TION

Llanelli Star - - SPORT -

THE fu­ture of Kiwi star Johnny McNi­choll at the Scar­lets re­mains un­clear as the player contemplates a pos­si­ble move to Ja­pan.

McNi­choll, who signed for the Llanelli-based team from New Zealand Su­per Rugby out­fit the Cru­saders in 2016, is out of con­tract at the end of this sea­son.

The full-back/wing is cur­rently in dis­cus­sions with the West Walians over a po­ten­tial new deal, but head coach Wayne Pi­vac has re­vealed those talks have been put on hold as Welsh rugby’s new pay band­ing sys­tem is sorted out.

“Un­til the band­ing sys­tem is sorted we won’t know where those over­seas play­ers sit. That is pretty much on hold at the mo­ment,” said Pi­vac.

“I think Johnny was just look­ing to see what was hap­pen­ing in the Ja­panese mar­ket, he has been very hon­est and open with us.

“I think if he doesn’t go there, then he will stay here.”

McNi­choll qual­i­fies for Wales at the end of the year by virtue of the cur­rent three-year res­i­dency rul­ing.

How­ever, when he has been ques­tioned on the pos­si­bil­ity of rep­re­sent­ing Wales, he has ad­mit­ted he is un­sure about where his loy­al­ties lie.

There is no doubt that Pi­vac, who be­comes Wales head coach af­ter this au­tumn’s Rugby World Cup, will be keen to se­cure the ser­vices of a player who crossed for a hat-trick of tries in last sea­son’s Guin­ness PRO14 fi­nal and who has been one of his stand­out at­tack­ing per­form­ers in re­cent games.

McNi­choll is sec­ond for clean breaks and de­fend­ers beaten in the com­pe­ti­tion this sea­son, bet­tered only by Ed­in­burgh wing Duhan van der Merwe.

The new player band­ing sys­tem, which is re­plac­ing the Welsh Rugby Union’s na­tional dual con­tracts, will be dis­cussed at a meet­ing be­tween the gov­ern­ing body and the re­gions this week.

“If it is some­thing that gets signed off by the play­ers and the union, along with the clubs, then it can only be a good thing,” added Pi­vac.

“I would imag­ine ev­ery­one in­volved would want to get this fi­nalised sooner rather than later.” Johnny McNi­choll in ac­tion for the Scar­lets against Con­nacht ear­lier this sea­son.

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