Wayne Pivac is hoping he has done enough to convince Jonah Holmes his Wales prospects would be best served by joining a Welsh region for the 2020/21 season rather than see out his current contract at Leicester Tigers. The 27-year-old winger, who earned the last of his three caps last August against Ireland in Cardiff, is teasing out whether it is possible to leave the Gallagher Premiership behind a year earlier than planned to join one of Wales’ Guinness PRO14 teams in time for the new season.
Hosting a media conference call on Wednesday, Pivac suggested there was room to manoeuvre after he explained he had spoken individually to all his England-based players with a view to stressing the importance of having them available to play their club rugby in Wales rather than only have access to them when permitted under World Rugby’s regulation nine if they stay at English clubs.
Pivac chose an elite group of 38 Welsh-based players at the start of 2020 as the WRU changed its funding formula for the elite end of the professional game in Wales and he explained that with possible departures on the horizon, there was potential to accommodate any English-based players looked to move across the Severn.
“We named 38 players so if those 38 players remain in the country there won’t be any room,” he said. “If one or two left then there would be room. In terms of Jonah, I have had several conversations with Jonah, the last one two days ago. Jonah is someone who is exploring his options.
“One is he has got a year to run on his Leicester Tigers contract and that would be to remain there and look at his options post that period of time, or to speak to Leicester Tigers to see can he get out of that contract, see what that would look like and then a club in Wales to want to bring him to Wales.
“After being called-up, I had feedback from Wayne (Pivac) who said, ‘you’re young, you’re confident, just keep doing what you’re doing'. That was reassuring”
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“What I can say is he is exploring all those opportunities and I have been speaking with both a club side in Wales and also with Jonah around this matter – and I’d like to see him back. Whether it is this season or next I’d like to see him in Wales. I believe it would help his selection and also it would help the squad if he is there and not returning to England in the fallow weeks.”
There has also been speculation since the suspension of rugby for the coronavirus pandemic that Saracens’ Nick Tompkins would size-up a switch to regional rugby while Hadleigh Parkes was considering a possible move to the Japanese Top League, ruling him out of future Wales selection.
Pivac said it was a wait-and-see situation. “I can’t talk about individual contracts but coming towards the end of any season there is a lot of discussion around players that may be leaving or players that may be coming in. There are some players leaving and there are some players coming in.
“It sort of balances itself out actually. When the clubs have got contacts signed and the ink is dry and everyone is ready to go I’m sure those announcements will be made but there has been some activity as you would expect at this time of the year.
“I’m across a lot of these discussions, I’m involved in a lot of them with players coming and going. Obviously, the 60-cap rule is something that we are driving hard and the exiled players who were involved in the Six Nations this year I have spoken to all of them around our view, what we have learned from the Six Nations this year in terms of running the weeks across the campaign with having exiles versus players playing in Wales and the advantages and disadvantages. That discussion has been had with each individual player and it is fair to say there is a number of players looking to come to Wales.”
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