Glasgow Warriors aim to complete the re-signing of Leone Nakarawa “within days”, and are hopeful that his love of the club and the city will outweigh potentially more lucrative offers from elsewhere.
The 31-year-old lock forward, who signed his first professional contract when joining the Warriors in 2013, is a free agent after Racing 92 ripped up his contract because of breaches of club discipline – most notably when he reported for duty after the World Cup a fortnight later than agreed. Assistant coach Kenny Murray worked with Nakarawa during the Fijian’s three years at Glasgow and is confident that there will be no recurrence of such issues should a return be agreed,
“I’m hoping we can get it done and dusted within days, to be honest,” Murrray said after training at Scotstoun yesterday. “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.
“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.”
Reports in France at the weekend suggested that Nakarawa had verbally agreed a two-and-a-half-year contract with Glasgow. Murray said he could not confirm that, but hinted that there might be a short-term offer covering the rest of the season with an option to extend the deal thereafter.
“I’m not sure about the exact length or terms of the deal. I think the main thing is to try to 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 could not play in that return Champions Cup match on Saturday as squads for rounds three and four in the competition had to be agreed before last week’s games. But the minute his signing is completed he can take part in Pro14 games and, if the deal goes through in the next week or two, he would also be able to play in rounds five and six in Europe next month.
Asked about Racing’s depiction of the player as selfish and undisciplined, Murray continued: “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. We’re hopeful we can get him here and manage him well enough so that we don’t have that issue with him.”