Glasgow Warriors hope Leone Nakarawa will be available for their Pro14 fixture against Benetton on 4 January as the Fiji lock nears a return to Scotstoun.
Nakarawa, sacked by Racing 92 after reporting several weeks late following the Rugby World Cup, has agreed to rejoin the club where he spent three fruitful years until the end of the season.
Dave Rennie’s Warriors expect him to arrive in Glasgow in the new year and pending travel and visa processes, hope he will be in a position to face the Italian side in Treviso.
While that timeline is the best-case scenario, a more likely prospect would be a second Glasgow debut in either of the final two European Champions Cup pool matches. Glasgow host group leaders Exeter Chiefs then travel to Sale Sharks on the following two Saturdays, and must win both to stand any chance of qualification for the quarter-finals.
Nakarawa asserted himself as one of the finest second-rows in world rugby during his first spell in Scotland, helping Glasgow to a maiden Pro12 title in 2015, a campaign he capped with an outrageous display in the battering of Munster in the final, before winning Olympic gold with Fiji Sevens the following year and moving to France. The 31-year-old remains close friends with several Warriors players and at a time where many Pacific Islanders struggle to settle in Europe, felt at home in the city, forging a particularly tight relationship with former coach Gregor Townsend.
As Glasgow’s Champions Cup hopes hang by a thread, and they struggle to build momentum in the Pro14, the club will hope Nakarawa’s off-loading flair, set-piece ballast and intelligence can help revive Rennie’s final season before the coach leaves to take charge of Australia.
Meanwhile, Glasgow and incoming boss Danny Wilson are eager to strengthen their back-row options for next term, but have failed in a bid to lure South Africa flanker Marco van Staden from the Bulls.
The 24-year-old, capped three times, did not make Rassie Erasmus’ World Cup-winning squad, but delivered a string of outstanding performances in Super Rugby and featured for the Barbarians against Wales last month. While Glasgow have tracked Van Staden’s progress for several years, the flanker sees his future in South Africa as he pursues further international honours, especially with Francois Louw having now retired from Test duty.
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