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Wilson backs return of Nakarawa

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Glasgow Warriors star would 'love' for arrival of former teammate Leone Nakarawa by the New Year

Glasgow Warriors won’t welcome the return of Fiji star Leone Nakarawa by Christmas, but the club’s co-captain Ryan Wilson is hopeful the prominent second rower will return by the New Year.

Talk of a move back to Scotstoun has been prominent since Nakarawa was axed by Top 14 side Racing 92 after he reported two weeks late back for club duties following the World Cup in Japan.

The 31-year-old left for the Paris-based outfit in 2016 after making a name for himself with the Warriors, of whom he made 69 appearances since his debut in 2013 and won a PRO12 title with two years later.

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Wilson was also at the forefront of Glasgow’s championship success four years ago, and the Scotland international said he would love nothing more than for his old teammate to return to Scotland as they chase a place in both the PRO14 and Champions Cup knockout stages.

“He’s not coming around for Christmas. He’s away in Fiji at the moment I think. He’s been in touch, I speak to him quite a bit,” Wilson said, according to The Scotsman.

“I’d love to enjoy New Year with him. I’d love more than anything for Leone to come to Glasgow. It would mean everything to the club to have a player like that back here. That would be incredible because he is such an amazing player and a good man as well.”

As it stands at the halfway stage of the season, Glasgow sit two points outside of a play-off berth in their conference in the PRO14, while they remain in firm competition with the likes of Northampton, Munster and Gloucester for a place in the Champions Cup quarter-finals.

The acquisition of Nakarawa would significantly bolster their chances of sending outgoing head coach Dave Rennie off to the Wallabies with some silverware, but they have had to fight with clubs from around the world for the Olympic gold medallist’s services.

Sydney-based Super Rugby franchise the Waratahs, embattled Premiership side Wasps and Top 14 play-off contenders Bayonne have all reportedly been interested in the 1.98m, 104kg lock in recent weeks.

Early Premiership contenders Sale Sharks had also previously shown their interest in Nakarawa before dropping out of the race nearly a fortnight ago.

However, a statement released by Bayonne earlier this month indicated that Nakarawa had voiced his intent on re-joining Glasgow, making the Warriors leading contenders to attain the 62-test international’s signature.

A return by the New Year could make Nakarawa available for Glasgow’s opening clash of 2020 against Treviso at the Stadio Comunale di Monigo on January 4, but that means he would miss the Warriors’ 1872 Cup derby match against Edinburgh this Saturday.

Rennie’s side overcame their Scottish rivals in a 20-16 home victory over the weekend, and with the return fixture at Murrayfield just five days away, there is plenty to play for in the absence of Nakarawa.

“We wanted an 80-minute performance. In patches we didn’t get it but, for most of it, there was a lot of brutality out there. We are pleased with that,” Wilson told The Scotsman of his side’s win.

“This week we spoke about how important it was, not only for our league but because we didn’t do very well in the 1872 Cup last season and we wanted to make amends for that.”

After back-to-back defeats in front of a home crowd at the hands of Leinster and La Rochelle in both domestic and continental competitions, Wilson was confident Saturday’s success will empower his side of delivering again in the Scottish capital this week.

“We had two losses at home in a row, which is not good enough at all by our standards. I think we will take a massive confidence boost from this game and then use it against them when we go to Murrayfield,” he said.

“It was a bit scrappy [at the weekend], not helped by five yellow cards. But you grind them out and probably feel better after games like those than when you’ve run away with it.”

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Glasgow Warriors star would 'love' for arrival of former teammate Leone Nakarawa by the New Year