The clash against entry Leinster
“We are all very impatient.
The Champions Cup is a priority objective for us.
Leinster made it to the final last year and have consistently had strong results in this competition in recent years.
It's a very big entry game.
It will be good to play in Le Havre, people are not used to seeing rugby.
There, they will be entitled to a big shock!
His return after being a father
“My partner gave birth ten days ago now.
I was able to spend time with my wife and daughter last week.
Everything went well.
But now I'm ready to catch up with the competition, I can't wait to play again.
(...) We prepared well for this match, we saw how Leinster dominates the debates in the URC
(United Rugby Championship, ex-Celtic League)
They will rotate their squad a lot in this competition, it's hard to know which team they will field against us.
But a lot of our players have played against them when they wear the Irish shirt.
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What impresses him at Leinster
“It's the continuity that there is in their game between the forwards and the backs.
They have defenders who put a lot of speed and rhythm and their forwards, who are very strong on the fundamentals, are also very mobile and they are very good with the ball.
They have a very balanced game and a precise game plan.
We are still in negotiations with Racing and a few other teams.
We are waiting to see...
His duel with Jonathan Sexton
“I was with him on the tour with the British and Irish Lions
(to South Africa in 2021)
, but I didn't play with him.
He's a good guy, he knows the game like the back of his hand.
I imagine he will be behind a lot of their attacking moves and when they choose when to attack, he is the one who senses which spaces to take.
I don't know how many times he has played with them this year
(three matches including two as a starter, editor's note),
watching a few recent matches, he hadn't played, so he will be fresh for this match.
He is an exceptional player, he is one of the best openers in the world, it is always a good challenge to face him.
His contract extension with Racing?
“We are still in negotiations with Racing and a few other teams.
We're waiting to see...hopefully we can do it as soon as possible, so I know what's going on and can move on.
There's a lot of discussion around it right now, hopefully we can do it this week or next week.
That way we can put this behind us, move on and focus fully on rugby rather than negotiations.”
We were, with Gregor Townsend, on the same wavelength and I think it showed in the two games in November
His November test matches
“It was a bit special for me.
I was not retained at first in the team, then I was recalled.
The two games I took part in, I think we played very well.
We led the All Blacks from close quarters, we could have won, but we couldn't cross the line and score, we were nine points clear.
We had chances to score, we could have beaten them.
We had a dominant performance against Argentina, they received a red card but I think we were dominant before that red card.
The last two games were really positive, in the right direction and it showed us how we can play.
If we manage to maintain this momentum and learn the right lessons for the next Six Nations Tournament,
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His complicated relationship with Gregor Townsend
“To be honest, I didn't talk to him much because my wife was about to give birth.
I had to leave the team almost directly.
During the two weeks I was there, Gregor worked really well with me.
We were both on the same page and I think it showed in both games.
I spoke to Gregor before leaving to clarify some things, the game plan, he came back with answers and we were both on the same page, which showed in both games. »
Statements taken at a press conference
Statements taken at a press conference