GLASGOW forward Leone Nakarawa has still to return to Scotland after an extended leave and may not play for the Warriors before December.

The 32-year-old Fijian, who signed on for another season at Scotstoun in June, had been expected back last month after flying home first for lockdown and then for paternity leave. But the death of a close family member has delayed his return to Glasgow, and, as he is likely to be called up by Fiji for the Nations Cup, he might not be able to play club rugby until after that tournament.

Nakarawa rejoined Glasgow at the start of this year, initially on a short-term deal, after his contract was ripped up by French side Racing 92 because of disciplinary reasons including an unauthorised absence following last year’s World Cup. But Warriors assistant coach Kenny Murray insisted yesterday that the club were not worried by this extended absence.

“He’s definitely coming back,” Murray said. “He’s obviously on his way back. We expect him to be here in the next 10 to 14 days. The issue was initially with Covid, and he’s also had a bereavement in his family – it was a close relative – so it has been a tough time for him.

“It is obviously difficult, isn’t it? He’s had a few tough things to deal with back home – the Covid initially, then this bereavement, and a new baby as well – so there has been a whole host of things that have been difficult for him. But listen, he’s coming back and he’ll be on the pitch, hopefully soon, to play.

“I suppose it’s never ideal, but that’s where we are at the moment. I don’t anticipate he will be available for the first game, but he will be available pretty soon after that.”

That first game is on Saturday week, when Glasgow visit Ospreys in the opening round of Pro14 fixtures. There are just a couple of weeks after that before players start to be called up for national training camps. If Nakarawa does not play at club level before the Nations Cup, he could make his return in the Champions Cup in the second weekend of December.

“There’s a good chance he’ll be selected in that Fiji squad,” Murray accepted. “That’s a probability rather than a possibility: we just need to deal with that.

“We’ve been communicating with him regularly. Obviously, Danny [Wilson, the head coach] spoke to him and he’s got really good friendships with a few of the players, particularly Ryan Wilson, so Ryan has been speaking to him daily, to be honest.

“There’s never really an issue regarding where he is and what he’s doing. There has just been a few difficulties around him managing to get back because of personal circumstances.”

No matter how accepting or relaxed Glasgow may be about the Nakarawa situation, it is another unwelcome complication in a season which is already difficult enough to negotiate because of a number of factors. For one thing, in common with Edinburgh, but unlike some of their other rivals in the league, the Warriors will lose around 15 players to international duty during the two Test windows – the Nations Cup in the autumn and then the Six Nations after the turn of the year.

A recruitment freeze has denied Wilson the chance to fill a couple of obvious gaps in his squad, while the new scheduling of the Pro14 has handed Glasgow a particularly haphazard first block of fixtures. While Edinburgh, for example, have two Saturday games, then two on Sunday, and then four Monday matches in their first eight rounds, the Warriors’ fixture list is Saturday, Sunday, Saturday, Monday, Monday, Sunday, Monday, Sunday.

“It’s a bit of a different season this year and it’s going to be tough,” Murray accepted “We’ve already sat down to talk about how weeks will look, and there’s so many more things to think about now. We now have to get everyone tested at the start of the week and then wait for those results to come back before you can start training – that’s an issue we didn’t have before.

“There’s a whole host of things to take into account. TV are playing a big role in determining when we play and quite rightly: we need TV to support rugby; we have to support that and go with it. It will be challenging in terms of travel, something different for us to deal with. But we need to be flexible. It’s a different way of working but an essential way of working.

“We need to trust the guys we’ve got who will be playing here. We’ve got young guys coming through and guys like that, and we need to trust them and help them perform during the windows. You can’t sit and complain about it.”