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Leone Nakarawa still not returned as Glasgow build up for new season

Glasgow's Leone Nakarawa.
Glasgow's Leone Nakarawa.

Leone Nakarawa is unlikely to play for Glasgow until December’s European Cup games as the Fijian lock is still at home on the other side of the world.

Covid-19 restrictions and a bereavement in his close family has further delayed Nakarawa’s return to Scotland. He left for Fiji for the birth of his first child as lockdown began in March and has been unable to return to Scotstoun.

Defence coach Kenny Murray admitted it wasn’t an ideal situation and it was unlikely now that Nakarawa could play in any the starting Guinness PRO 14 fixtures through until after the November internationals.

“We don’t know what isolation he’ll have to undergo and obviously it’s going to take a while to bring him up to speed,” said Murray. “I’m not involved directly myself but I gather from speaking to people that he’ll be heading back here sometime in the next 10 to 14 days.

“It’s been a pretty traumatic period at home with the birth of his first child, the Covid situation and now this unfortunate loss in his family, so it has been a tough time for him. But we are looking forward to welcoming him back.”

Nakarawa’s previous contract at Racing 92 in France was terminated when he didn’t return from Fiji after the last World Cup – he then signed on a short-term deal with Glasgow and played a handful of games before agreeing an extension – but Murray said the lines of communication between the player and Scotstoun were strong.

“We’ve been communicating with him regularly,” he said. “Obviously, Danny spoke to him and he’s got really good friendships with a few of the players, particularly Ryan Wilson, I think Ryan has been speaking to him daily, to be honest.

“There’s never really an issue regarding where he is and what he’s doing, there has just been a few difficulties around him managing to get back because of personal circumstances.”

However, Nakarawa will not be part of next week’s PRO14 opener against Connacht and is unlikely now to play for the Warriors until December, given he’s certain to be included in Fiji’s squad for the forthcoming Nations Cup tournament.

“There’s a good chance he’ll be selected in that Fiji squad, that’s a probability rather than a possibility, and we just need to deal with that,” added Murray. “That’s one of the challenges this season will bring with us.”

The number of international call-ups are going to play havoc with Glasgow’s season, and the new PRO14 fixture list is going to complicate matters even more, said Murray.

With Monday night games now a feature, gaining releases of players from Scotland camp is going to become more difficult with recovery protocols.

“I think it was season before last we did well on international windows, we got 20 points during the which was excellent,” he said.

“We need to trust the guys we’ve got who will be playing here. We’ve got young guys coming through like Jamie Dobie, Staff McDowall, Robbie Nairn and talent like that, and we need to trust them and help them perform during the windows.

“You can’t sit and complain about, it, you’ve got to get on and do the best you can.”

Glasgow have not been able to organise opposition for any warm-up games so have been playing intra-squad matches to try and get tuned for their opener against Connacht in Galway next Saturday.

“It is just too difficult to get other teams in the current situation, but obviously we have enough players for us to do 15 on 15 here, so we have been doing specific contact sessions when we have been going bone-on-bone, full bhuna.

“We did a bit of that last week and we’ve got another session tomorrow, and that has been great for trying to replicate that game environment and physicality.”

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