Johnny McNicholl: Scarlets boss Brad Mooar backs Kiwi's Wales bid after residency qualification

By Nick WebbBBC Sport Wales
Johnny McNicholl joined Scarlets from New Zealand side Crusaders in 2016
Johnny McNicholl joined Scarlets from New Zealand side Crusaders in 2016

Scarlets coach Brad Mooar is backing the claims of wing or full-back Johnny McNicholl for a Wales call-up in the month he qualifies for selection on residency.

New Zealand-born McNicholl, 29, is in his fourth season at the Scarlets.

He is set to qualify after completing his three-year residency since arriving in Wales in 2016.

"We'd all love to see him playing for Wales and would celebrate that hugely," said Mooar.

World Rugby's Regulation 8 states that "a player may represent a country after they have resided there for 36 months", although that will increase to 60 months on 31 December 2020.

Cardiff Blues' New Zealand-born centre Willis Halaholo, 29, is also now qualified to play for Wales on residency grounds.

McNicholl set up Kieran Hardy's try in the Scarlets' 17-13 Pro14 win over Cheetahs on Saturday, though he limped off late on.

Former Crusaders player McNicholl was brought to Parc y Scarlets by incoming national coach Wayne Pivac - who now takes the Wales reins from Warren Gatland after the World Cup - and could follow the route of fellow Kiwi three-quarter Hadleigh Parkes.

"Wayne, Stephen Jones and Byron Hayward know Johnny really well, he's done a great job for them in the past," Mooar said.

"He's playing some really good footy, he's dangerous, he's backing himself and playing off instinct while also growing his game."

Wales play the Barbarians on Saturday 30 November in Pivac's first game in charge, facing an invitation side coached by predecessor Gatland.

Wales finished the World Cup with just three fit back-three players in Hallam Amos, Owen Lane and tournament top scorer Josh Adams, following injuries to Liam Williams, Leigh Halfpenny and George North.

Fly-half Rhys Patchell faces a scan on a shoulder injury suffered in the third-place play-off against New Zealand, while centres Jonathan Davies and Parkes played through injuries during the tournament.

Locks Tex Ratuva (Fiji) and Sam Louisi (Tonga) are set for Scarlets debuts in November after also playing at the World Cup.

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