Fully back since January and relieved of his physical worries – “I have a few ailments but like any player over 30 in professional rugby” – he was able to reassure him that he can hold his rank and will start a sixth term at Aix this Thursday -en-Provence (8:45 p.m.).
You had considered ending your career, what made the difference on the other side?
The way this season is going I want to keep having fun in this group to finish a full year. This one was cut off, I started playing in January. There was hesitation because I hadn’t given many assurances about my physical condition and level of performance. We are not a summer camp so the question arose. I was able to replay a few games, it’s coming back, so we were able to find a solution.
A season like this could have been a great trip, right?
Yes, but if there is a climb and I can’t use it? A lot of questions came up, I was ready to quit, it wouldn’t have been a tragedy. But the fact that I struggled for more than a year to only resume a few months I found a pity. I really want to go a full year and then this year is really good so it’s exciting.
You scored your first try in two years in Bourg-en-Bresse in March, how did that make you feel?
Nothing special at the time because I was concentrating on the game. When I came back and played Bonifatius again, I had already felt strong emotions. To play a game like that against Bayonne again in front of so many people and in such an atmosphere was unbelievable. When we see each other again in the operating room or in rehab, we tell ourselves: the road was long, but it was worth persevering. So the test is one good memory among many others.
With Naituvi injured and De Nardi moving to the back, you have a real chance of playing the semis…
For me, these are incredible bonus moments that I didn’t necessarily have to experience again. Just getting into the debate is a victory for me. I give everything and if it has to come, it will come, I put things into perspective.
The team remains with a defeat in Colomiers (27-23) and a poor game against Grenoble (22-12), does that worry you?
Yes, it’s a bit worrying because we’ve been feeling a bit groping since Bayonne. But the positive thing is that we’re winning and behind them they have more problems than us… We’re struggling in our rugby but it’s not easy because there are a lot of injuries and rotations so it’s hard to find the rhythm and to keep .
On the other hand, we exude a real collective strength, an impeccable spirit that allows us to still be efficient. So it’s alarming, but then again, it allows us to keep our feet on the ground, it can be a blessing in disguise.
Does a long qualification for the final stages lead to some kind of decompression?
Maybe even if we all respect our opponents and want to work on the upcoming games, knowing that all players want to win their place. The group remains concerned. There may have been a decompression against Grenoble, but I think it’s connected to emotions, many players played their last game at Boniface, it’s always difficult to handle.
How do you view this game in Aix-en-Provence this Thursday (8.45pm CET) knowing that there is a lot at stake for them but nothing for you?
It’s a bit special but good for this type of match: we can face it without pressure but it will prepare us for the rhythm of the final stages because for them it’s like a round of 16 (1). They will put the intensity that we will find in the final stages, it is good to face this type of adversity. I hope we will respond with presence as we know that getting 40 points will not be enough to keep our momentum going…
(1) The Aixois need an easy success if Colomiers loses to Agen with no bonus; otherwise they need a bonus win and expect losses to Colomiers or Carcassonne (with no defensive bonus).