Ulster’s Leone Nakarawa decision fails over medical report

The news that Ulster won’t sign, after all, Fijian forward Leone Nakarawa comes as no huge surprise. There had been a lot of excitement when Ulster first announced that the gifted 33-year-old had been signed as a replacement for departing totem pole Marcell Coetzee last January, but unfortunately playing time and form de Nakarawa have declined significantly since returning to Glasgow in January 2020.

Nakarawa’s decision failed due to a medical report, with a brief statement from Ulster saying: “We can today confirm that upon receipt of a detailed medical report following a review by the club this weekend -end, Leone Nakarawa will no longer join Ulster Rugby for next season.

“This result is disappointing for both the player and Ulster Rugby, however, we will continue to build solidly with our preparations for next season. We wish Leone the best for the future.

In his first 30-year stint with Glasgow, Nakarawa played 69 times for the Warriors, creating two tries and winning the man of the match title in the 31-13 victory over Munster in the 2015 Guinness Pro12 final. in Belfast.

Equally at ease in the second row as in the back row, the Fijian joined Racing 92 at the end of the 2015-16 season and during his three campaigns in Paris his outrageous unloading abilities have earned him the nickname of Mr. Octopussy.

He was named European player of the year after his second season with the Parisian club, scoring 23 tries in 86 games during his stay in France.

Nakarawa has also played for Fiji in three Rugby World Cups and was named to the official tournament squad at the end of the 2015 tournament. He was also part of the Fijian team that won rugby gold. at 7 in Rio 2016, winning Fiji’s first-ever Olympic medal.

Returning to Scotstoun in January last year, Nakarawa marked his first Glasgow appearance with a try in the Champions Cup win over Sale Sharks before agreeing to extend his stay at the club to the summer of that year.

Nakarawa played three times before flying to Fiji when the lockdown arrived. He was back late when rugby resumed and was later ruled out due to a knee injury and did not play again in 2020.

In total, Nakaraw has only played 11 games for the Warriors, including six starts, and this season has managed just 311 minutes for the Scottish region.

After being substituted at half-time in Glasgow’s 40-21 RDS loss to Leinster in late February, their head coach Danny Wilson admitted: “He has a lot of work to do, if I’m brutally honest.”

Nakarawa only started one game after that.

It remains to be seen whether Ulster will now look to make an alternate signing, although Coetzee’s departure and Nakarawa’s non-arrival have been aided by the form of Nick Timoney this season, who has seen him establish himself as their first choice number. “8” with a dynamic performance chain.

They also have Jordi Murphy, Greg Jones, Sean Reidy, Marcus Rea, Matty Rea and emerging talents like David McCann and Reuben Crothers Ireland Under-20s in their ranks.

There’s no shortage of second row options either, with captain Iain Henderson, player of the season Alan O’Connor, Kieran Treadwell, Sam Carter, David O’Connor and the very promising Cormac Izuchukwu.

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