Ahead of their encounter with Fiji this Saturday at Twickenham, Barbarians coach Eddie Jones has created a new position for Mathieu Bastareaud, calling the former France international a “utility” player.
Jones joined in an interview with the 54-cap Frenchman on Tuesday to describe him as a “back and forward” after the former Toulon centre’s recent pioneering positional change.
The 31-year-old is likely to play at No8 for the BaaBaas this weekend against Fiji, a position where he has thrived so far this season for Top 14 leaders Lyon, who are five points clear at the top in the French league.
He joined Pierre Mignoni’s side on a short loan this summer after being overlooked by France head coach Jacques Brunel for the World Cup in Japan.
His loan stint is now over and he is set to move to the United States to play for Rugby United New York in 2020.
Is he a back? ????
Is he a forward? ?
Is he a giant rugby hybrid – Like a Prius with a gym membership? ?
— Barbarian FC (@Barbarian_FC) November 12, 2019
Saturday’s match at Twickenham will not only allow him to play before his move to New York, but it will give him the opportunity to further transition from the centre to the back row in a different environment.
It was an unprecedented positional change for a player of Bastareaud’s calibre, but one that could prolong his career. He has always had a physique that would suit a back row forward and it was inevitable that he would one day be unable to keep up with the outside backs.
Our fill of international rugby for 2019 isn't yet over and Fiji are coming to London with some potential stars in the making https://t.co/IwJBnIYH2k
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) November 12, 2019
This has proven to be a sensible positional shift thus far and it looks to have received the backing of Jones. It could even see some more players follow in his footsteps.
Such an announcement was originally seen as a bit of a joke, but Bastareaud has silenced many critics and will now have a chance this Saturday to exhibit his new positional change on the international stage.
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