By Steffan Thomas
The Scarlets are all set to ramp-up their interest in securing the signing of Wales back row man Ross Moriarty after the news that John Barclay is heading to Edinburgh next season.
The Scottish skipper is reported to have penned a three-year deal with the Scottish capital club, bringing an end to a hugely successful five year stint in West Wales.
But last season’s Guinness PRO12 champions are confident of putting together their “strongest squad for years” in a bid to achieve more silverware and regularly reach the last eight of the Champions Cup.
Head coach Wayne Pivac has identified current Gloucester back row star Moriarty as the marquee signing for next season, but the Scarlets will face stiff competition from the Dragons and a host of big-spending English and French clubs.
“We’ve made no secret of the fact we admire Ross’s ability as a player,” said Scarlets general manager of rugby, Jonathan Daniels.
“Knowing him on the field, and a bit about him off the field, I think he would be the right fit to come here and help us with our ambitions to be champions of the PRO14 and regularly appearing in the last eight of Europe.
“But Ross, like any other player, has to make his decision over where he thinks the next chapter of his rugby career will take him. We’d like it to be here.”
Wales stars Jonathan Davies, Gareth Davies, Scott Williams and Jake Ball are among the Scarlets who are out of contract at the end of the season.
But Daniels is confident Pivac’s best players will not only commit their future, but says the Kiwi head coach will be able to make new signings and have a stronger squad at his disposal next season.
“I’m confident most of the squad will stay,” said Daniels. “Although we’ve been quiet in terms of announcements, we haven’t got to November without having a lot of those players nailed down. It’s hard to put a number on the amount of new signings we’ll make because it is a moving beast.
“That could mean three, four or five players coming in – but what we can say is our squad for next year will be the strongest squad we’ve had for years.”
In order to achieve their aims the Scarlets’ budget will be higher ahead of next season.
“The board have discussed the budget with the coaching staff and there is a sensible increase in the budget for next year,” confirmed Scarlets chairman Nigel Short.