Toulon are ready to rip up the three-year contract offered to All Blacks wing Nehe Milner-Skudder, opening the door sign Welsh star Liam Williams next summer, according to reports.
Last month reports surfaced the three-time European champions had joined the joined the scramble for the signature of with his three-year deal at troubled Saracens due to expire at the end of the season.
The Ospreys are also in the hunt to bring the Lions No.15 back to Wales but French sports daily L’Equipe are reporting on Wednesday the Top 14 big spenders are going flat out to secure his services.
And that could mean making injury-hit All Blacks star Milner-Skudder surplus to requirements despite the 2015 World Cup winner penning a three-year deal to join Toulon last December.
The 13-times capped New Zealander was ruled out of the 2019 World Cup after a shoulder injury prevented him playing any Super Rugby matches for the Hurricanes beforehand.
Just 10 months ago Toulon made a big show of securing the signatures of Milner-Skudder and South Africa’s World Cup winner Eben Etzebeth for the 2019-20 season.
Giant Springboks lock Etzebeth is due to arrive in Toulon before the end of the year and honour his three-year deal.
But now, the arrival of Milner-Skudder, who has not played any rugby since November 3 last year, is in jeopardy due to his shoulder problems.
His contract has not yet been approved by the French League. Before this happens, he must have a medical examination.
And L’Equipe report if Toulon rip up the Milner-Skudder deal it would free up funds to make a bumper offer to Welsh star Williams.
Saracens are rebuffing reports Williams, who has 62 Welsh caps and three Test appearances for the Lions in 2017, could be among the high profile departures from the club next summer in the wake of their salary cap saga.
He has been an unqualified success in London, helping them to a European Champions Cup and Gallagher Premiership double last season.
But the 28-year-old is believed to be keen on a return home and the Ospreys want to accommodate him.
But Toulon’s offer could well prove tempting, particularly as he’s over the 60-cap threshold for plying his trade outside of Wales.
He could also have a former Welsh and Lions team-mate in the Toulon ranks in Rhys Webb, though the scrum-half is also subject to frenzied transfer speculation with Exeter Chiefs and Bath reportedly batting for his services.
The French newspaper claim Toulon too would have a fight to sign up Williams, claiming there’s a host of Top 14 rivals across the Channel vying for his signature. Williams could face a three-month layoff after injuring an ankle in training during the Rugby World Cup.
The full-back is a doubt for the start of Wales’ defence of their Six Nations crown having suffered the injury ahead of the World Cup semi-final defeat against South Africa last month.
He flew home straight after the 19-16 loss to the ‘Boks and had surgery in London.
Wales open their Six Nations campaign against Italy in Cardiff on 1 February before travelling to face Ireland seven days later.
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