Leone Nakarawa signs for Ulster on a one-year deal

Fijian international was a super-star during his first stint at the club but his second spell has failed to live up to expectations

Leone Nakarawa is leaving Glasgow Warriors to join Ulster in the summer. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Leone Nakarawa is leaving Glasgow Warriors to join Ulster in the summer. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

ULSTER have announced the signing of Glasgow Warriors’ back-five forward Leone Nakarawa. The 32-year-old Fijian international will join the Irish province on a one-year deal in the summer. Glasgow Warriors have declined to comment.

Nakarawa’s departure from Scotstoun will be met with mixed emotions. He demonstrated during three highly successful years with the club between 2013 and 2016 that  he is one of the most exciting and dangerous players in world rugby when fully fit and focussed – but his second-coming has fallen some way short of that earlier standard.

He re-signed for the club in January 2020 after his late return from the 2019 World Cup prompted Racing 92 to tear up his contract in Paris, and managed three appearances before heading back to Fiji when lockdown arrived. He was then two months late returning to Glasgow after rugby resumed in August, with head coach Danny Wilson acknowledging that the 2018 European Professional Rugby Player of the Year was some way short of the fitness level required to play for the club, and he was subsequently ruled out of action until just over a week ago with a knee injury.


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Nakarawa’s departure will free up a considerable amount of cash in the club’s budget which Wilson will be able to direct elsewhere as he looks to build depth in his squad in several key areas.

“It’s an exciting time for Leone to be making the move to Ulster for the upcoming season as we look to continue to build on our ambitions as a squad,” said Ulster head coach Dan McFarland. “Given his broad skillset and experience, as well as some impressive accolades to his name, I’m confident that he’ll be a valuable addition to the team, and we look forward to welcoming Leone to the province.”

Warriors will also lose Adam Hastings to Gloucester next season, but have recruited Duncan Weir from Worcester Warriors (while free-agent Ian Keatley has joined with immediate effect to the end of the current campaign). Meanwhile Scott Cummings, Sam Johnson, Thomas Gordon, Jamie Dobie and Sean Kennedy have all re-committed to the club.

Huw Jones and George Horne are perhaps the two highest profile players coming out of contract with their futures undecided as it stands.


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About David Barnes 3956 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

8 Comments

  1. Really disappointing news again for the Warriors fans, is there ever anything positive these days? Also on a personal level really sad ending to the Glasgow / Nakarawa love affair, he was a huge hero of mine in a Warriors jersey but as some have rightly said already below this is pretty poor form by him (unless he has been ushered out the door to free up wages). Warriors took him back in a bad period for the player, got him fit and paid him through no performances and now he just leaves us. The overall setup at Warriors and the decline since that final in 2019 at Celtic Park, it really is pretty bleak

  2. What are the whispers about Jones heading for London Irish? We started to Hemorrhage players and performances under Rennie and it has accelerated this season. Lets not lose Horne to Scotland, he needs to start so move him to Edinburgh. In 3 years Glasgow have destroyed the previous 6 years hard work. So sad.

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  3. First we had to endure a good few of Dave Rennie’s abysmal signings and now Leone has used us as mugs getting big bucks to give us nothing in return. Injuries are part and parcel of rugby but getting paid by us while he built a new house back in Fiji sticks in the craw.He arrived in Glasgow as a nobody and grew into a European star during his time at Scotstoun and now the first chance he gets he’s off. Not sure what generous SRU contract he was given but tell Ulster to take him now as he has been of no use to the Warriors and the savings in his wages could pay for players who want to play for us.

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  4. Personally I think this poor. He arrives late and injured, and we pay for him to recover and get match fit. Only for him to got to Ulster. Very poor form indeed.

    I can’t see this any other way…

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  5. Good article and pleasingly not fawning about the “old” Nakarawa. I was on here expressing my concern about his return, his (lack of) commitment and in particular his attitude and sadly was right. One plus is that he will free up a fair wedge of cash but is it too late and other out of contract players will have been looking for other clubs?

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  6. Sad to say not a big loss, his second spell just hasnt worked and his best days are behind him. Glasgow need players who can show full commitment and we haven’t seen that from him second time around.
    Good luck to him though, hope it works out at Ulster for him.

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