The English giants claim they could not financially compete with the Scarlets for All Blacks star

English Premiership giants Wasps have claimed they simply cannot compete financially with the Scarlets after the Welsh side announced the signing of All Black Vaea Fifita.

It’s a telling statement that will come as a surprise to many given the well-documented financial difficulties of the Welsh regions.

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But English clubs are facing their own problems with changes to the salary cap in the competition, allowing only a £5million playing budget, plus a marquee player next season.

It means the 29-year-old lock, who has 11 caps for the All Blacks, swaps Coventry for Llanelli from next season in what is a major blow for the Scarlets.

“It’s disappointing, I’m not going to hide the fact,” Wasps manager Lee Blackett told CoventryLive.

“Vaea was direct from the start with myself, I couldn’t ask for more.

“I think when you understand the bigger picture and you see everything on paper and what he’s been offered, I can’t blame him. He has to think about his family and that’s the way to the Premiership. right now, we just couldn’t compete with the offer.”

Fifita has been one of the most impressive signings for the English Premiership this term, with his skill and speed through the field impressing observers.

“I can’t stress that enough, how good he was,” Blackett said. “How he’s adapted really well. It’s exciting in terms of what we’re going to have with him for the rest of the season.

“Unfortunately, as you’ve seen with several clubs, sometimes you have to lose players with the way the cap is and stuff like that, so that’s what it is. But look, we’re excited to see how this season is ending, I’m not going to be too sad because he’s still a Wasps player at the moment, so I’m pretty happy with that.”

Fifita will join former Hurricanes teammates Sam Lousi and Blade Thomson at Parc y Scarlets. Fifita and Thomson were members of the 2016 Super Rugby title winning team.

Scarlets head coach Dwayne Peel said: “We have signed a world-class player from Vaea and it is a true statement of our intent and ambition as a club. Vaea is a superb athlete, an X-factor player with the skills that match the way we seek to play at the Scarlets.

“He also brings a lot of experience at international and Super Rugby level, while adding Test-match quality to our second-line group.”

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