Former All Black midfielder Malakai Fekitoa is set to continue his All-Black-hiatus with an impending move to the Gallagher Premiership set be announced officially in the coming days, according to The Times.
Last year Fekitoa expressed his desire to one day wear the Black jersey again and with his Toulon deal expiring after the season, a move back to New Zealand would end his exile from All Blacks eligibility.
Instead, the 26-year-old centre will reportedly leave Toulon and link up with Wasps in the Premiership, extending his time playing offshore. An official announcement is due in the “next few days”.
The signing will be a major acquisition for the Coventry-based club after reports Willie le Roux, Nathan Hughes and Elliot Daly are set to leave. Wasps have confirmed that Hughes and le Roux will not return, while no announcement has yet been made on Daly.
Hughes is moving to Bristol Bears, signing a three-year deal to link up with head coach Pat Lam in the West Country, while le Roux is attracting interest from the South African franchises and Top League clubs in Japan.
Wasps Director of Rugby Dai Young said of Hughes and le Roux it was ‘dissapointing’ to lose such quality players.
“It’s always disappointing to lose players of such quality but this is professional sport and there isn’t much you can do about it.
“There are a number of factors that play a part in players’ decisions to move on and unfortunately these guys have opted to move onto pastures new for 2019/20.
The signing of star centre Fekitoa will alleviate some of the concerns of player turnover, and also reunite him with his Highlanders teammate Lima Sopoaga, who were both influential in winning the franchise’s first Super Rugby title in 2015.
Fekitoa left New Zealand after the British & Irish Lions tour to join Toulon for the 2017-18 season, linking with Ma’a Nonu and Semi Radradra in a star-studded backline. The French giants finished fourth in his first season, qualifying for the Champions Cup this year but were knocked out of the Top 14 playoffs in the first round following a 19-all draw with Lyon.
Toulon have endured their worst ever European run this year while languishing in 11th place in the Top 14. The side won’t make it out of the Pool stages for the first time in the Champions Cup after losses to Newcastle, Edinburgh (twice) and Montpellier, leading to a player exodus for next season.
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