Lyon have announced the arrival of Mathieu Bastareaud on a short-term deal, but it now appears as though he may take up a new position too.
The 126kg centre has committed to Lyon until he sets off for the US and Major League Rugby in 2020 having been left out of Jacques Brunel’s French World Cup squad.
However, his short time at Lyon could leave a long-term impact on him as he may be set to move from his normal centre position to playing No 8.
“With Pierre (Mignoni), we discussed the possibility of playing at Number 8. I told him that I was not closed to play at that position. On the contrary, since we are talking about change, why not continue! It can also be exciting to take on this challenge over this period. After that, I think I still have a lot of work to perform at this key position. But we will try the bet!” he said to reporters.
Many have often wondered whether Bastareaud would be better suited in the pack due to his size, and with his pace declining it might be the ideal time for the transition.
Having been left out of Brunel’s World Cup plans unexpectedly, not even being named among the back-ups, Bastareaud was left without a plan between now and his switch to Rugby United New York next year.
He was said to be wanted by club’s in both France and across the globe for the next six months, with Montpellier, Stade Francais, the Sharks and Munster among the interested parties.
However, Lyon won the race and if he does decide to move to the back-row and succeed Brunel’s may wonder what could have been if France fail to fire at the World Cup. If he succeeds one would also wonder whether a future return to the international fold may be on the cards.
Australia centre confirms French move
Australia centre Tevita Kuridrani said on Wednesday he will end his Test career as he joins French Top 14 club Biarritz next season.
Kuridrani, 30, who made the last of his 61 Wallabies appearances at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, has signed a two-year deal with the newly promoted outfit from the Basque Country.
He has spent almost a decade with two Australian franchises.
“Thank you @brumbiesrugby @wallabies and the @westernforce for 10
incredible years in Super Rugby and 6 in the green & gold,” he posted
“Time for a new chapter,” he added.
Kuridrani made his debut for the Brumbies in 2012, going on to play 135 games for the club.
He would become a stalwart of the club as he nailed down a starting spot in his second season, helping the club to the Super Rugby Final and a historic win over the British and Irish Lions.
The 31-year-old moved to the Western Force in 2021, playing an integral role in their maiden finals appearance in Super Rugby AU.
Fijian-born Kuridrani, who would still be eligible for his country having won more than 60 caps, will link up with fellow Australia back Henry Speight at the Parc des Sports d’Aguilera as well as ex-New Zealand centre Francis Saili and former England No. 8 Steffon Armitage.
Biarritz, five-time French champions, have also signed Argentina scrum-half and Force teammate Tomas Cubelli and Ireland prop James Cronin as they return to the top flight for the first time in seven years.
Zebo Expected to Extend French Stay
Simon Zebo appears set to continue his stay in France according to reports
Racing 92 star Simon Zebo looks set to extend his stay in the French capital for another season according to Irish news outlet Independent.ie.
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
Wallabies veteran Kurtley Beale looks set to leave the Waratahs for French Top 14 giants Racing 92 a report in the Daily Telegraph claims.
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.
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