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Eddie Jones ends Wallabies speculation on Emmanuel Meafou

By Ian Cameron
Emmanuel Meafou of the Eagles is yellow carded during the round one NRC match between the Sydney Rays and NSW Country Eagles at Leichhardt Oval on September 19, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

Wallabies head coach Eddie Jones has ended speculation around the Test future of Toulouse’s giant, Australian second row Emmanuel Meafou.

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Jones has confirmed that Meafou, a formidable Top 14 player known for his towering stature and powerful runs, has announced his decision to play for France instead of representing the green and gold.

The 24-year-old, who was previously involved with the Melbourne Rebels programme in Australia’s Super Rugby competition before falling through the cracks, felt he was being overlooked by the Australian rugby system and decided to explore other opportunities in France back in 2019.

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Eddie Jones gives blockbuster 30 minute interview as he announces groundbreaking new Australia team

Meafou’s impressive performances for Toulouse have not gone unnoticed, and he has caught the attention of French rugby officials who are eager to add him to their national team roster. The prospect of playing in the Six Nations and potentially the Rugby World Cup is undoubtedly a tempting one for the towering forward.

Meafou, who was born in New Zealand but raised in Australia, even trained with Les Bleus despite not being eligible to play for Fabien Galthie’s France until 2024 at the earliest.

“He’s a good young boy from the Western suburbs of Sydney,” Jones said when fielding questions following the selection of his first Wallabies training squad. “He’s decided he wants to play for France. I’ve had a bit of a discussion with him. I only want players who want to play for Australia.

“If he’s made a decision to play for France, which he has, then I wish him all the best and I hope he has a great career. Do I wish he selected Australia? Not really. I can’t control that.

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“So, yeah, there’s not that much of a story there for you mate,” Jones told a French journalist on the zoom call.

The 6’8, 145kg lock’s decision to switch allegiance to France is not a totally uncommon one in the rugby world, with many players opting to represent countries, even where there aren’t familial or ancestral ties.

Although it may come as a blow to Australian rugby fans, Meafou’s decision to play for France is won’t come as a huge shock. With Meafou’s size and power, he is sure to be a force to be reckoned with in the French rugby team, and now French fans will be eager to see what he can bring to the international stage.

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Jon 2 hours ago
British & Irish Lions free agent open to Super Rugby switch

There are a couple of teams who could use a stop gap experienced head. Blues - I’m not sure the Blues have signed a replacement for Caleb Tangitau (if he hasn’t been let go to make room for Barrett) yet, or whether Reiko is going on sabbatical and/or will remain in the squad. With exciting young French player Xavi Taele looking destined for higher honors in black, talented breakthrough rookie Cory Evan’s, and a couple of utilities, in AJ Lam and Bryce Heem(even Clarke?), all trying to learn the midfield trade, Williams could be a great aid. The Blues signed key English center Joe Marchant before he was raised to that level, and were possibly in the hunt to bring back the dependable Tele’a from the Highlanders. Possible the main squeeze which would put to bed any signing here would be the battle at 10 with Beauden’s return, and the forcing of Plummer back into the midfield. Hurricanes - Jordie Barrett is off to Leinster for a sabbatical next year but the more likely signing would be Billy’s brother back in the team. The Hurricanes are light on the outside with the loss of Salesi Rayasi to the Top 14 and if no quality is found to back up Kini Naholo, the midfield of Sullivan or Proctors could find themselves on the wing and space for a leader to show the Hurricanes three All Black midfield hopefuls (Higgins, Proctor, Umaga-Jensen) how its done. Highlanders - Rotation is high as usual at the Highlanders and versatility remains a strength with a lot of the squad. With compatriot Rhys Patchell signing a move to the JRLO, the passing of outside back Connor Garden-Bachop, and confirmed departure of Argentine wing Martin Bogado, the versatility of many of the young backups in the squad could see a veteran 12 like Williams being a strong partner for the robust Tele’a. With hope that the other Umaga-Jensen brother can force him out of the starting lineup, and shifting the sides general Sam Gilbert back into 10, the off-contract midfielder might seen as the perfect option for a squad still looking to fill one back spot.

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