ULSTER have announced that former Glasgow Warriors star Leone Nakarawa will not now join the province on a 12-month deal next season after he failed a medical.
“We can today confirm that, on receipt of a detailed medical report following an examination by the club at the weekend, Leone Nakarawa will no longer be joining Ulster Rugby for next season,” said a clubs spokesperson.
“This outcome is disappointing for both the player and Ulster Rugby, however, we will continue to build strongly with our preparations for next season. We wish Leone the very best for the future.Further updates on the 2021-22 season squad will be released in due course.”
The recruitment of the Fijian forward was announced by Ulster in January as a like-for-like replacement for South African Marcell Coetzee (who is returning home to play on a three-year deal to play for the Bulls next season) – but Nakarawa (who was a superstar for Glasgow Warriors during his first spell at the club between 2013 and 2016) has not been the player he was in his prime since at least as far back as the 2019 World Cup.
The 2018 European Player of the Year was fired by Racing 92 in December 2019 after returning late to the club following the World Cup, being accused of “a total lack of team spirit and marked insubordination” and of “abandoning his post”.
He re-joined Glasgow Warriors in January 2020 on a short-term deal but a combination of not being match fit, injury and the early end to the season caused by Covid meant he managed only three appearances during the remainder of the 2019-20 campaign
He still managed to pick up a year long deal with the Scotstoun outfit last summer, but the 33-year-old’s fitness and form has been abysmal since his late return to Warriors from lockdown at the tail-end of 2020, and he managed just three starts and four bench appearances between mid-January and early April.
He has not featured for the club since playing the final 19 minutes of the team’s lacklustre 46-19 loss at the start of their Rainbow Cup campaign, but has not been listed as injured. Quite simply, he did not merit a place in the match-day squad ahead of Scott Cummings, Rob Harley, Richie Gray and Kiran McDonald.
Nakarawa is out of contract at Glasgow this summer. It is not clear what his next step will be, or even if he will choose to stay in professional rugby.