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Fekitoa rumours persist as Wasps feel the pinch

By Paul Smith
(Photo by David Davies/PA Images via Getty Images)

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Wasps face a potential battle to retain the services of former All Blacks centre Malakai Fekitoa at the end of the current season.

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According to Coventry Live, while Director of Rugby Lee Blackett described the soon-to-be Tongan midfielder as “someone you’re going to want to keep at the club” nothing more concrete is currently forthcoming.

Wasps moved swiftly to resign a tranche of 15 senior players on longer-term deals during the COVID-19 break midway through the 2019/20 season.

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However, the Premiership’s move from two to one marquee players takes effect at the end of the current season and Blackett now has Saracens’ World Cup winning South African tight head Vincent Koch on board.

Fitting Fekitoa plus big names Joe Launchbury, Jack Willis, Jimmy Gopperth, Dan Robson, Nizaam Carr and Vaea Fifita within the newly reduced £5 million salary cap may therefore prove difficult.

Various sources link Glasgow Warriors and some unnamed French clubs with the 2015 World Cup winner when his current contract concludes at the end of the season.

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Fekitoa, who joined Wasps from Toulon in 2019, has played only once this season after suffering a shoulder injury in September, and 38 times in total.

The reduced salary cap is spreading top-end talent around the English game, with the likes of Koch, Leicester’s Ellis Genge and George Ford plus Exeter’s Sam Skinner and Jonny Hill already destined for new clubs next term.

In addition, Coventry-based Wasps face a testing off-field spell during 2022 while refinancing huge levels of debt. Investors in their innovative bond scheme – which their most recent accounts show as a £35.2 million liability – are due to be repaid during the course of the year.

The club’s total debt is now £60.5 million according to accounts released last month for the financial year which ended in June 2021. In addition to the bond, £18.3 million of debt belongs to owner Derek Richardson while Wasps have also taken on £6.8 million of ‘other loans’ during their most recent trading year.

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Their 2020/21 trading losses have been contained to £7.4 million by a £3.7 million revaluation of their PRL shares, meaning aggregate losses since moving to Coventry in 2015 are £49.3 million.

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