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Wales open talks with Wayne Pivac about succeeding Warren Gatland

The Guardian logo The Guardian 03/04/2018 Gerard Meagher and Robert Kitson
Wayne Pivac signed a new contract with Scarlets in October but the New Zealander has been sounded out for the Wales head coach position after the 2019 World Cup. © Rex/Shutterstock Wayne Pivac signed a new contract with Scarlets in October but the New Zealander has been sounded out for the Wales head coach position after the 2019 World Cup.

The Scarlets coach, Wayne Pivac, has confirmed he has held talks with the Welsh Rugby Union with a view to replacing Warren Gatland after the 2019 World Cup.

Pivac’s stock has risen after guiding the Scarlets to the semi-finals of the Champions Cup – a season after winning the Pro12 – and the New Zealander, who signed a new contract with the region in October, has been sounded out by the WRU.

Martyn Phillips, the WRU chief executive, said in December he wants an appointment to be made by the summer and Pivac was at the time believed to be on a three-man shortlist which also included Chris Boyd, who has since agreed to take over at Northampton, and Dave Rennie.

After it emerged over the weekend that the WRU had sought permission to speak to Pivac, the 55-year-old was on Tuesday quoted by the BBC as saying there had been “discussions over my contract here”. He added: “As you’d expect, I’m sure most coaches at the highest level in Wales would have had conversations. But there has not been a formal interview.”

British & Irish Lions' head coach Warren Gatland. © Provided by Press Association British & Irish Lions' head coach Warren Gatland.

Meanwhile, Manu Tuilagi’s hopes of touring South Africa with England may rest on whether Leicester reach the Premiership play-offs, according to his coach, Matt O’Connor, who confirmed the 26-year-old centre is expected to return from a pectoral injury at the end of the month.

O’Connor revealed Tuilagi, who has not played for England for more than two years, had suffered a muscle strain against Wasps last time out and that he is likely to make a return against Newcastle on 27 April. The Tigers, fifth in the table, have only one more regular season match after that but O’Connor believes a run to the knockout stages could lead to Tuilagi’s involvement with England over the summer.

“It should be a couple of weeks rather than months,” O’Connor said. “I suppose the England tour will depend a little bit on how many games and how far we go into May. It will have a large bearing on what Eddie’s plans for him and the tour to South Africa are.”

Bath have dismissed any possibility of their England lock Dave Attwood making a permanent switch to Toulon this summer following reports the French club are keen to offer the player a permanent deal. “We won’t be interested,” said Todd Blackadder, Bath’s director of rugby. “Dave Attwood will be playing for Bath next season. We’ve acted in good faith and done the right thing by the player. It would be really disrespectful of them to make an offer.”

Elliot Daly has recovered from the nasty finger injury sustained after scoring two tries against Leicester and has been declared fit to take his place for Wasps against Sale on Friday.

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