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McNicholl's future up in the air

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    08 Jan 2019     Getty Images

Now with the Llanelli Scarlets McNicholl, who has played for the side since 2016, is off contract at the end of the northern season.

However, changes to the pay banding system in Wales are underway and until they are decided McNicholl's ability to stay with the Scarlets is uncertain.

Incoming Wales coach and Scarlets coach Wayne Pivac told walesonline.co.uk, "Until the banding system is sorted we won't know where those overseas players sit. That is pretty much on hold at the moment."

The banding system will replace the Wales Rugby Union's national dual contracts and is to be discussed between the Union and its regions this week.

"If it is something that gets signed off by the players and the union, along with the clubs, then it can only be a good thing," Pivac said.

"I imagine everyone involved would want to get this finalised sooner rather than later," he said.

The concern for the Scarlets is that McNicholl, in order to secure a playing spot next season, has been considering a move to Japan.

"I think Johnny was just looking to see what was happening in the Japanese market," Pivac said. "He has been very honest and open with us. I think if he doesn't go there, then he will stay here."

Should he stay McNicholl would qualify under the three-year residency ruling to be considered for Wales, although he has commented on that prospect by saying he is unsure where his loyalties lie.

Given his play for the Scarlets under Pivac's coaching it is felt he would be keen to secure McNicholl after the Rugby World Cup. McNicholl scored a hat-trick of tries for the Scarlets in last season's PRO14 final and continues to be one of their most attacking players.

He is second in the statistics for clean breaks and defenders beaten in the competition this year.