McNicholl set to join Scarlets

PRO12 side Scarlets have secured the signature of Crusaders winger Johnny McNicholl on a two and half year deal.

Director of rugby at the region, Wayne Pivac has admitted that the Parc y Scarlets outfit have been in talks with the 25-year-old speedster. 

McNicholl will be moving to the PRO12 side at the end of the Super Rugby season.

The Cashmere High product admits that he will miss the Crusaders but has expressed his excitement at the new challenges that awaits him.

The winger has only played for the Crusaders since making his professional debut in 2013.

"This is a great opportunity to experience living and playing in a different part of the world. 

I am at a stage in my life that I would like to do some more travel while I don’t have family commitments back in New Zealand, and I am so fortunate to be able to do that with my rugby career," McNicholl told SuperXV.

"The Scarlets club appeals because they are a successful team that plays a similar brand of rugby to the Crusaders, and working under a Kiwi coach in Wayne Pivac will make that transition easier.

"Leaving the Crusaders and Canterbury Rugby will be extremely hard though because they are both teams that I love and feel incredibly privileged to have played for. 

"I grew up in Christchurch and these were the teams that I always aspired to be a part of, so I am very grateful to have had that opportunity. 

"I will definitely miss my teammates and the whole team culture here, but I’ll be the biggest Crusaders and Canterbury supporter living in Wales."

Crusaders head coach Todd Blackadder admits that McNicholl is at the top of his game and is highly rated, not only amongst the coaching staff but also his peers.

"Johnny is a rare talent," Blackadder said.

"His speed and ability to break through tackles has never been on better display than in the last couple of games, and we are loving seeing Johnny back to his best after a frustrating run with injuries over recent years.

"He is a superb team man who is much respected by all of those who have had the pleasure of working and playing with him. 

"We will miss him but look forward to a fantastic final season with him."