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Explained: What seduced Castres into signing 'unemployed' Nakarawa

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

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Beaten Top 14 finalists Castres have explained why they have gambled on signing Leone Nakarawa, the Fijian forward whose career has been on a downward spiral since falling out with Racing following the 2019 World Cup in Japan. At the time, the now 34-year-old was one of the stars of the world game due to his brilliant offloading and his athleticism, a reputation honed at the title-winning Glasgow before he switched to Paris in 2016.

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However, relations soured at the Top 14 club with his delayed return following the World Cup in the Far East and it was December 2019 when they fired him. “After a few days of thinking about the legal deadlines, Jacky Lorenzetti has decided to break Nakarawa’s contract,” read a statement.

“This decision, taken in consultation with the sporting director of the club, follows on from the proven disciplinary manoeuvres of Nakarawa who, in particular, did not show up at the resumption of the training programme on October 28.”

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That left Nakarawa trying to relaunch his career back in the old PRO14. He got going at Glasgow in February 2020 only to then endure an eleven-month wait in between games due to the pandemic stoppage and a troublesome knee injury.

Still, his eight appearances for the Warriors in the 2020/21 season were enough to convince Ulster to sign him on a deal that was ultimately scuppered when he failed a medical at the Irish club. That left Nakarawa returning to France, taking up a contract at Toulon where he made 13 appearances in his sole season there before getting released at the end of the 2021/22 campaign.

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That decision left him unemployed but it was only temporary as Castres decided to gamble on offering the 65-cap second row a one-year deal. It was at the beginning of July that this contract emerged and the club have now explained why they opted to bring in Nakarawa.

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In a video published on the Castres website, team manager Pierre-Henry Broncan said: “He was on the list of unemployed because he was not retained by Toulon where he played last season. At 34, he has a strong ambition which is to compete in the 2023 World Cup in France.

“His versatility, his experience at the very highest level and his motivation seduced us. Today, he is a player who really has an objective to finish his career and he knows very well that he needs to go through a big season with Castres Olympique to be able to try to reach the 2023 World Cup.”

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