Pen­ney set to drop in at Scar­lets

Wales On Sunday - - SPORT - STEFFAN THOMAS Rugby Writer [email protected]­

ROB Pen­ney has emerged as the strong favourite to suc­ceed Wayne Pi­vac as 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 strong short­list of up to six coach­ing can­di­dates.

WalesOn­line un­der­stands 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 freeflow­ing brand of rugby they have played in re­cent sea­sons.

Pen­ney fits that bill hav­ing en­joyed tremen­dous suc­cess as head coach of Can­ter­bury who 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 Scar­lets back-room 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 Scar­lets’ 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.

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