Lyon have made the much-anticipated announcement that new signing Mathieu Bastareaud will start for them this evening against Grenoble at number eight.
The 54-cap France international had flirted with the idea of moving from the centres to the back-row, but many may have dismissed it as fanciful thinking.
However, he has his chance of making his mark this evening at the Stade Pierre Rajon.
#LOUFCG Découvrez la compo du LOU Rugby retenue pour affronter le @FCGrugby ce vendredi (19h00) au Stade Pierre Rajon. Pour ce premier match de préparation, Pierre Mignoni et son staff font appel à un groupe de 36 joueurs.https://t.co/uotp2SOm4I pic.twitter.com/snWMvhQQ50
— LOU Rugby (@LeLOURugby) August 1, 2019
In a 36-man squad, coach Pierre Mignoni has options should this experiment not pay off, particularly with Carl Fearns on the bench behind Bastareaud.
While some may say that this decision borders on lunacy, this is the time to do it before the Top 14 season starts. Furthermore, if there is one back in world rugby that may be better suited in the pack, it is the 20 stone Bastareaud.
In fact, only this year former France international Thomas Castaignede recommended the 30-year-old made the transition to keep his test hopes alive, although he has since retired from international duty. With the player not as young as he once was, the belief was that he would eventually be too slow to keep up with the outside backs.
While there is more to being a back-row player than simply being a strong ball-carrier, Bastareaud is deceptively strong at the breakdown, and has a physique that lends itself to getting over the ball and being hard to dislodge.
This may be a stroke of genius that pays off for Lyon, only if it is for the short period of time that Bastareaud is with the club. With the Top 14 season kicking off in only three weeks, former centre does not have long to learn the ropes, however.
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