Wales international Leigh Halfpenny had been lined up for a return to his homeland for next season, but that move has now hit a stumbling block.
The Toulon full-back had been in negotiations with Cardiff Blues for a number of months but, according to WalesOnline, the £400,000 per year deal could be set to fall apart at the last minute.
The report suggests that Halfpenny wanted to sign a somewhat unorthodox dual contract with Cardiff and the Wales Rugby Union that would have seen the 28-year-old return to his former side on a two-and-a-half year deal – i.e. it would take him up to the middle of the 2019/2020 season (or until the end of the World Cup).
Such a move is unlikely to be ratified by the WRU (as they would be loath to agree to a contract that expires in the middle of a season), hence the roadblock in negotiations.
Halfpenny’s contract expires this summer, but the report goes on to suggest that if he fails to agree on a Cardiff homecoming he will sign on for another year at the Toulon. The Top 14 side have already signalled their interest in keeping him and have already placed a new contract offer in front of him.
Where any of the involved parties go from here remains to be seen but Cardiff and the WRU will still be confident of making a deal happen, either through some form of compromise or through one of the sides relenting.
In the meantime, Halfpenny and the rest of the Wales squad will be looking to pick themselves up quickly after a late 21-16 Six Nations defeat to England at the Principality Stadium. The number 15 put three penalties and a conversion over the bar but his contribution was not enough to seal the win for Rob Howley’s side.