It is "100% focus" on the Stade Français, which moves to Toulon this Sunday (9:05 pm), for the third day of the Top 14. The New Zealand center Ngani Laumape (28 years old, 15 selections), rookie flagship of the Parisians came to compensate for the departures of Gaël Fickou and Jonathan Danty, left behind “his All Black dream” of playing in the 2023 World Cup to devote himself to his new club.
Before facing Toulon, the club where his idol Ma'a Nonu played ("a legend, my favorite player of all time"), Ngani Laumape recognizes that he is not yet at his best.
With two severe defeats, against Racing and Bordeaux, the Parisian club is in last place, with zero points on the clock.
“The season is still long.
I still have to adapt, there is the language barrier.
I'm taking French lessons but it's hard, he explained at a press conference on Friday.
Good things take time.
I remember that in 2016 with the Hurricanes
(New Zealand province where he played, Editor's note)
, we lost the first three games and we ended up champions.
"He must appropriate the culture of the club"
But for the Stade Français, it is urgent.
"We are not going to look for excuses, but it is true that with Fickou and Danty, we had two international French players, who knew the club and the Top 14 very well," said Julien Arias, the coach of the Stade Français in charge of the back lines.
There, Ngani has a different culture, he has to appropriate the culture of the club, the culture of the game that is practiced here and which is very different from what is done at home.
He is still in a period of adaptation, he is making the necessary efforts, it takes time… But it shouldn't take too much!
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Ngani Laumape insisted on his desire to win with Stade Français, "a great club".
“I really hope to play in the final stages and win titles here.
I have not left my country, part of my family and given up my All Black dream for something other than winning.
I think we can succeed.
The Top 14 is a very exciting, really physical competition, and I love it!
The player has in any case adapted well to Parisian life and was able to enjoy Disneyland with his children.
“Life here is really crazy, I feel like I'm in a dream, it's a beautiful country,” he smiles.
It remains to concretize it on the ground.
“He arrived on tiptoe but is gaining more and more weight in the team, believes Julien Arias.
He does his utmost to feel at ease and understand what is being asked of him ”.