WP Nel: Edinburgh hold 'positive' talks over Scotland prop's future

WP Nel receives treatment during his comeback for Edinburgh against Harlequins
Nel was in the wars again on his return to action for Edinburgh on Saturday

Edinburgh are in "deep conversation" with WP Nel in the hope of retaining the Scotland prop beyond this season.

The South Africa-born tight-head, 30, is reportedly a target for French giants Toulon and Clermont Auvergne.

"WP is a big family man and his family are settled here in Edinburgh," said managing director Jonny Petrie.

"We've had some positive conversations, those continue just now and we'd be looking to bring that to a resolution over the next wee while."

Nel joined Edinburgh in 2012 and has won 15 caps since qualifying through residency to play for Scotland in 2015.

He was sidelined for three months with a neck injury before making his return in Saturday's victory at Harlequins in the European Challenge Cup.

"WP is a world-class tight-head prop so I don't doubt there's interest from other clubs," Petrie told BBC Scotland.

"We're deep in conversation about looking to try and keep him at the club, as we are with our other big players as well."

Flanker Hamish Watson signed a new two-year deal last week, but fellow Scotland internationals Grant Gilchrist, John Hardie and Rory Sutherland are among those whose contracts expire at the end of the season.

"The French clubs do have money and we find it increasingly tough to operate in a spiralling market with the English and the French clubs," Petrie acknowledged.

"But what it does force you to do is be smart in the way you approach these things and we work very hard to keep the players we want to keep and to bring players in we want."

Decision on head coach 'by end of season'

Duncan Hodge talks to his assistant coach Stevie Scott (left)
Hodge has led Edinburgh to some impressive European wins, but they remain 10th in the Pro12

Uncertainty over who will be Edinburgh's head coach next season remains, but Petrie says he expects to resolve the situation before the end of this season.

Duncan Hodge was named interim head coach in September after taking over from Alan Solomons, and is in the running to take the job on a permanent basis.

The former Scotland fly-half has won seven and lost six of his 13 games in charge, with a European Challenge Cup quarter-final in sight if they beat Romanian minnows Timisoara Saracens on Friday, in their first game at Myreside.

"Duncan's had a really good start," Petrie said. "He is head coach just now and we're in the middle of those conversations with him at the moment.

"It's in his hands and he's doing a good job and we're talking to him about what the future will look like.

"I think he'd be the first to admit that there been some inconsistencies in our performance where you have back-to-back wins against Harlequins, and then we lose at home to the likes of Zebre.

"So we're trying to iron out those inconsistencies. But Duncan has done a really good job coming in and we're pleased with where he's going with that.

"Duncan is under contract to us this season and beyond and we're working with him to develop the squad for next year."

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