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McNicholl eyes Wales test call-up

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PRO 14    

Kiwi-born wing admits Wales test aspirations

New Zealand-born Scarlets wing Johnny McNicholl has admitted his desire to represent Wales after signing a new deal with the Llanelli-based club earlier this week.

The 28-year-old’s updated contract will see him extend his stay with the club after first joining from the Crusaders in 2016, and will allow him to become eligible for the Welsh national side after this year’s World Cup on residency grounds.

McNicholl has scored 27 tries in 59 outings for Scarlets, and with outgoing head coach Wayne Pivac – who brought McNicholl to Llanelli – set to replace Warren Gatland as Wales head coach at the end of this year, a call-up to the national side appears inevitable.

McNicholl has previously remained quiet about the prospect of representing his adopted nation, but told the BBC that the chance to play international rugby for Wales and make his Welsh-born daughter proud was a big factor in securing his future with Scarlets.

“It was definitely a factor when me and my family were deciding to stay,” he said.

“If I do get that opportunity, I would be very humbled and grateful and take it with both hands.

“I feel like, I’ve brought my partner over here, we’ve adapted the Welsh culture, we’ve lived here for three years. We’ve really embraced it.

“I’ve got a daughter now. She’s Welsh, she was born here, she’s going to pre-school here and I feel like if I do play for Wales, I’d be doing her and her home nation proud.”

McNicholl would be following in the footsteps of fellow New Zealander Hadleigh Parkes, who qualified for Wales through residency and has become a mainstay in the midfield since his try-scoring debut against South Africa in 2017.

“He does and obviously he looks like he’s taken it with both hands and gone all the way there.”

“I don’t think that’s how Wayne works. I think he’ll pick the best side that’s on form.

“If I am playing well, I hope to be a part of that side.”

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Kiwi-born wing admits Wales test aspirations