Liam Williams look set to rejoin the Scarlets within weeks – rather than next season – as Saracens bid to bring their financial house in order.
The Wales and Lions star already seems to have played his last game for the English champions and will spend the next month trying to get fit for the Six Nations, before pulling on his old Scarlets shirt once more.
Sarries are loath to pick the 28-year-old again as he has not played for them so far this season. If it stays that way then he will not be included in salary calculations, which would mean they have £230,000 extra head room. To work with.
Williams has signed for the Llanelli region for the 2020-21 campaign but the double-winners are looking to expedite his departure in the wake of the salary-cap scandal that is forcing them to trim their wage bill.
Saracens were docked 35 points and fined £5.36m after being found to have breached the £7m limit in each of the last three seasons.
Interim chief executive Edward Griffiths has revealed that players may need to be offloaded or wages cut to comply with the cap for the current season.
Eddie Jones’ England stars appear to be safe after director of rugby Mark McCall revealed that older players or those whose contracts are ending in June will be targeted.
Williams’ deal to join Scarlets in the summer was announced on Boxing Day but it is understood the Wales full-back, who is currently out with an ankle injury, is now destined to leave ahead of schedule.
When asked if Williams could join Scarlets before the end of the season, McCall said: “I’d say there is a possibility.
“It was Liam’s decision first up that he was going to go back to the Scarlets, back to Wales, and that was for family reasons.
“We understood that completely and we don’t regret, and he doesn’t regret, him coming to Saracens. We don’t regret bringing him to Saracens, he has been brilliant.
“He was always going to go back to Wales regardless of the salary-cap decision.”
If, as expected, Williams returns to Scarlets ahead of schedule, his final game for Saracens will have been the 2019 Premiership final when he was a tryscorer in a dramatic comeback win over Exeter at Twickenham.
The player – who has always been used primarily as a wing by Sarries – suffered an ankle injury in training that ruled him out of the World Cup semi-final defeat to South Africa and he has not played since.
“Liam might be fit for the Six Nations, but I don’t think he will be fit for us before the Six Nations,” McCall said.
“It is not ideal. He hasn’t played a game for us this season. That’s not his fault.
“If anything has to happen it will be players who will be coming towards the end of their careers in all probability, or their contract ends in four months’ time,” he said starkly.
“It is tricky and it is not ideal. If something needs to be done, it needs to be done and we will do it as well as we can.
“But I am really desperate to make sure that those players leave the club amicably and on good terms because they have given a lot in the time they have been here.”