French star Mathieu Bastareaud is set to make his anticipated debut for Lyon and will start at No 8 as they face Grenoble.
The 54-cap France international signed for Lyon on a short-term contract from Toulon before he heads on to MLR in the US.
It was suggested recently that the centre could move into the pack as an experiment to combat the fact that he is losing his pace.
Earlier this year former French international Thomas Castaignede also suggested that the 20 stone centre should move into the forwards to try and prolong his international career.
However, having been left out of France’s World Cup squad and then retiring from international rugby it seems more like a tactical decision.
Lyon have brought a 36-man squad for the game so if the Bastareaud experiment fails they have Carl Fearns on the bench to bring on.
The main thing is that if it doesn’t work there is still a couple of weeks until the Top 14 season starts, and if it does work then Bastareaud will have some more time to learn the ropes.
It will be interesting to see how it all pays off, but if it does work then Lyon could have a new weapon in their squad until he departs for New York.
Zebo Expected to Extend French Stay
Simon Zebo appears set to continue his stay in France according to reports
The 30-year-old has been at Racing for two seasons and has a clause to extend his time there to a third season if activated.
Having impressed last season, the former Munsterman has had an injury-hit campaign this time around through concussion and breaking his foot, before the domestic and European season were suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak.
However, when he has managed to play this season he has caught the eye and it is thought that the French giants are keen for him to put pen to paper on a new deal too.
That would see the Cork native remain unable to add to his 35-caps for Ireland due to the overseas rules held by the IRFU, while it would also see him face a further challenge for minutes on the pitch with Wallaby ace Kurtley Beale appearing likely to join Racing in the summer.
While a third-year in Paris seems set to be in Zebo’s short-term future, in the long-term it is unknown where he will end up, but admitted while speaking to Off the Ball yesterday that he would only return to Ireland to play for former side Munster.
French Giants Eying Deal for Beale
Kurtley Beale could be set to leave the Waratahs for Europe this summer according to reports
The 31-year-old has been key to the Super Rugby franchise and it would be a major blow to lose a player of his quality ahead of next season.
However, despite the potential move across to Europe and Racing it would have no effect on his standing in the international set-up as he currently has 92-caps for the Wallabies to his name putting him well ahead of the 60 needed to be selected by an overseas player.
With new head coach Dave Rennie coming in during the summer to take over from Michael Cheika it is unknown whether or not Beale will remain an integral part of the team.
He was vital during Australia’s Rugby World Cup campaign last year and with his versatility he will hope that Rennie sees him as an asset to his side.
Although he is not the only Wallaby that is being reported to leave Super Rugby with Melbourne Rebels pair Matt Philip and Luke Jones also set to depart for France according to Fox Sport, with Pau their likely destination.
All of these potential moves would be problematic for the Australian-based Super Rugby sides, who are struggling as it is and without star men sticking around the future looks bleak.
Skelton Set for Summer Move from Saracens
Australian second-row ace Will Skelton looks set for a move away from Saracens this summer, but Rugby Australia won’t be happy with his choice of destination according to reports
The giant second-row has been a target for Rugby Australia since before last year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan, but he decided to remain in England with Saracens ruling him out of contention to feature for the Wallabies due to their overseas laws.
However, they took another shot at getting his signature once Saracens salary cap scandal unfolded, believing it was the perfect opportunity to bring him home.
Talks took place with the 27-year-old but reports in France are now claiming that a deal with French Top 14 side La Rochelle will be confirmed shortly.
It would be another big-money move for the lock, but once more he would be unable to represent his country as he falls well short of the 60-caps needed for an overseas player to be eligible to be called-up.
Failing to tie-down a star name like Skelton again would be a major blow for Rugby Australia and may cause them to consider altering their current rules around the Giteau Law as they are missing out on being able to select some of their best players because of it.