All Blacks: Outstanding winger in ‘advanced talks’ to join French giants – report
The Crusaders look set to lose lethal All Blacks winger Leicester Fainga’anuku after the Rugby World Cup, according to a report in France.
Fainga’anuku has played just two Test matches for New Zealand but is attracting interest from several Top 14 clubs.
Toulon join the race
The 23-year-old’s contract with the Crusaders comes to an end this season and he has caught the eye of teams in France.
Earlier in the season, Lyon were keen to bring him on board as an option on the wing and in the centres.
However, their interest has cooled following the signing of Fiji star Semi Radradra and Sharks winger Thaakir Abrahams.
RugbyRama report that Bordeaux-Bègles, Clermont and Toulon have all taken an interest in the Crusaders star.
The report states that Toulon are in ‘advanced talks’ with Fainga’anuku and that the club is his preferred destination.
Toulon are well stocked with wingers, with Springbok flyer Cheslin Kolbe, Fiji international Jiuta Wainiqolo and France speedster Gabin Villiere on their books.
The club recently confirmed that they are in talks to extend the trio’s contracts beyond the 2023/24 season, despite constant reports that Kolbe will leave the club at the end of the current campaign.
Even if the trio do remain at the club, their international commitments mean there would be plenty of opportunities for Fainga’anuku. His versatility also adds further depth in the centres.
All Blacks eligibility
Leaving New Zealand would mean he is no longer eligible to represent the All Blacks unless there is a policy change when Scott Robertson takes over.
Robertson gave Fainga’anuku his first taste of Super Rugby in 2019 and has selected the youngster 47 times (as of 27 May 2023). He has scored 24 tries in that time, including seven in six games this year.
His form is hinting towards as recall to the All Blacks squad, particularly with clubmates Sevu Reece ruled out for the rest of 2023 and Will Jordan still yet to play a match this year.
While a move could bring his All Blacks career to a halt, he has the option of switching Test allegiances after a three-year standdown period.
He would then qualify to represent Tonga, where he was born, along with his older brother Tima.
READ MORE: Scott Robertson: Future All Blacks boss to challenge the ‘norm’ on selecting overseas-based players
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