Scarlets sign Crusaders wing McNicholl

Johnny McNicholl

Johnny McNicholl made his Crusaders debut in 2013 and has scored nine tries in 25 Super Rugby games

Scarlets have signed New Zealander wing Johnny McNicholl on a two-and-half-year deal, say his current team Crusaders.

The 25-year-old, who can also cover full-back, made his Crusaders debut in 2013.

McNicholl will arrive in Llanelli “at the end of 2016”, said the Super Rugby team in a statement.

“This is a great opportunity to experience living and playing in a different part of the world,” said McNicholl.

“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.

“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.”

Crusaders’ former Edinburgh coach Todd Blackadder described McNicholl as “a rare talent”.

Blackadder added: “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.”

Speaking before Crusaders announced McNicholl’s move, Pivac said Scarlets want to ensure they vastly improve on a winless 2015-16 European Champions Cup campaign next season.

“We are looking at all the competitions not only for next season, but the season after as well,” said the New Zealander.

“Europe is a target in a year and two years’ time. Certainly we want to improve on our performances in Europe next year.

“In the next couple of years the goal is going to be trying to have a crack at winning this Pro 12, and realistically put ourselves in a position where we should be getting to the final if not winning it and to the quarter-finals and beyond for Europe.”

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