Scarlets: Coach Pivac has talks with WRU about succeeding Gatland

Wayne Pivac
Former Fiji boss Pivac took charge of Scarlets in 2014 and coached them to the Pro12 title in 2016-17

Scarlets coach Wayne Pivac has held informal talks with the Welsh Rugby Union about succeeding Wales coach Warren Gatland in 2019.

Pivac, who signed a new Scarlets deal in October, is understood to be one of the front-runners to replace Gatland.

Pivac, who has previously said he would "seriously consider" the job, explained it was "nothing formal... just discussions around my contract here".

He also said Scarlets would not be re-signing Wales wing George North.

The 25-year-old is expected to make a decision imminently on which of the Welsh regions he will join on a national dual contract from English side Northampton at the end of the season.

'No formal interview'

Pivac, whose Scarlets side will play Leinster after reaching the semi-finals of the Champions Cup, was linked with the Wales post in press reports at the weekend.

The New Zealander, along with Glasgow's head coach Dave Rennie one of the favourites to replace Gatland, insisted the talks were "nothing major at all".

"As you'd expect, I'm sure most coaches at the highest level in Wales would have had conversations," he added.

"But there has not been a formal interview."

North return ruled out

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George North extends the lead for Wales

Pivac has ruled out re-signing North, even though Scarlets have first refusal on their former player when he returns to Wales this summer.

"We have signed a back three player and we're only signing one," Pivac said.

"We haven't been informed where George is going by anybody - I think everybody's still waiting - but you can only wait so long and we have signed a player in the back three."

Scarlets, who had spoken to the 25-year-old, are set to sign 27-year-old Cheetahs full-back Clayton Blommetjies with the South African side confirming the player will link up with the Welsh region next season.

"We're pretty much done now and we'll roll out a couple of signings over the coming weeks - the main back three signing, and a few players re-signing from within, and one or two others from outside," he added.

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Six Nations 2017: Jake Ball display gets dad's seal of approval

Ball could return for semi-final

Meanwhile, the west-Wales region could be handed a timely boost as they battle for European and domestic success, with Wales lock Jake Ball set to return from shoulder surgery.

The 26-year-old went off in the first half of Wales' 33-18 loss to New Zealand last November with a dislocated shoulder but hopes to return in time for Scarlets' European Champions Cup semi-final match with Leinster in Dublin on 20 or 21 April.

"Jake's targeting it and we'll love him to be there but he's got to be cleared medically before we'll entertain that," Pivac confirmed.

"He's weakened one area of his shoulder and needs to get that up to strength before he's fit to play but hopefully that'll be sooner rather than later."

Verrsatile back Paul Asquith is unlikely to feature again this season after rupturing a hamstring in the Champions Cup quarter final win over La Rochelle, while prop Wyn Jones is also likely to be ruled out for the season after injuring a hamstring on Wales Six Nations duty.

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