GLASGOW hope to re-sign Leone Nakarawa “within days”, and appear confident that the troubles which ended the Fijian’s time as a Racing 92 player would not be repeated at Scotstoun.
Reports in France at the weekend suggested that the 31-year-old lock forward had verbally agreed a two-and-a-half-year deal to return to the Warriors. Assistant coach Kenny Murray said earlier today (Tuesday) that he could not confirm that, but hinted at an offer that would involve Nakarawa signing on initially for the rest of this season, with an option to stay for longer.
“I’m hoping we can get it done and dusted within days, to be honest,” Murray said after training at Scotstoun. “The club has gone down a process with him and there needs to be some kind of agreement if he wants to come. We’re definitely keen and we’re definitely interested. We’re just waiting for clarification on whether he wants to do that.
“I’m not sure about the exact length or terms of the deal. I think the main thing is to try and get him here towards the end of the season and then see how that goes. I’m not sure what his long-term plan is in terms of whether he wants to stay in Europe and keep playing here or whether he wants to try something else.
“He’ll want to get things sorted out quickly so that he knows what he’s doing. From our perspective, we’re going into a critical window and a tough period of the season, with back-to-back games against Edinburgh and then away to Treviso, before the final two European games. So it’s six really tough games on the spin if you include La Rochelle at home this weekend. So if anything is going to happen, we want to get it done in days – not weeks.”
Nakarawa would be ineligible for Saturday’s game against La Rochelle even if he were to sign on time and be passed match fit, as squads for rounds three and four in the competition had to be agreed before last week’s games. But the minute he is registered he can play in PRO14 games – making it probable that his second debut would be in an 1872 Cup match – and if the deal goes through in the next week or two he would also be able to take part in rounds five and six in Europe next month.
Nakarawa is a free agent after Racing 92 ripped up his contract last week because of what they alleged were breaches of club discipline – most notably when he reported for duty after the World Cup a fortnight later than expected. But, having worked with Nakarawa during the Fijian’s three years at Glasgow from 2013, Murray is confident that there would be no recurrence of such issues here – and believes that his good memories of those years along with some continuing friendships could outweigh more lucrative options.Error, group does not exist! Check your syntax! (ID: 27)
“The reality is that clubs in Europe, in England and France, have got a lot of money, but he really enjoyed his time here. He moved for his own interests because he was offered big money abroad, but he likes the people here and is really friendly with a lot of the guys.
“He has a really good relationship with Ryan Wilson. They speak every week and have done for a long time. When he was here he spent Christmas at Ryan’s and spent a lot of time with Ryan’s family. He kind of took him under his wing a bit. Ryan has obviously been on the phone encouraging him to make a good decision. “Obviously we have Niko [Matawalu] here and guys like Mesu [Dolokoto],” Murray continued, referring to the Fijians who are already in the Warriors squad. “He has strong connections. I think he enjoyed the crowd and the city here, so I think he’s maybe at a stage where he just needs somewhere to come back and relax and get on with his rugby.”
Asked about Racing’s suggestion that Nakarawa was an undisciplined individualist who put self before the team, Murray added: “I think it’s tough for guys from Fiji when they go away to World Cups and stuff: they’re big family people and they like to go home. We were always aware of that and we tried to give him a bit of extra time at times. It’s the same with Niko.
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“At the end of the day they [Racing ] have their own standards and if he has broken them then it’s their prerogative to do that [end his contract]. We’re hopeful we can get him here and manage him well enough so that we don’t have that issue with him.”