The Top 14 have shared on Twitter the dalliance of Josua Tuisova at No8 for Lyon last weekend. The Fijian, who has developed a fearsome reputation across Europe as a powerful winger or outside centre, briefly packed down at No8 for his club against Toulouse last Saturday.
Although this was only a temporary move while they were a man down in the pack, the former sevens star was able to put his pace to good use, exploding from the base of the scrum in the Toulouse 22 and offloading to Toby Arnold to set up the second try of the match.
Lyon retook the lead with that try and went on to win the match 31-23, so this was a pivotal intervention from Tuisova who started the match at outside centre.
Switching a midfielder to No8 is not unfamiliar territory for Lyon as the club had also fashioned Mathieu Bastareaud into a No8 over the past year. The 32-year-old earned all 54 of his France caps as a centre but he flirted with a positional switch when at Lyon as a medical joker in 2019 and slotted in as No8 after rejoining them in 2020 following a stint with Rugby United New York.
The Frenchman was quite similar to Tuisova stylistically during his days as a full-time back, and the Fijian may have provided a glimpse of things to come later in his own career.
#TOP14 – J17
Ailier, centre, troisième ligne centre… il sait tout faire !
— TOP 14 Rugby (@top14rugby) February 23, 2021
At the age of 27, however, Tuisova still has plenty more to offer in the wider channels of the field and the pace he exhibited from the base of the scrum is a clear indication that he is still of greater value with a No11, 14 or 13 on his back.
Tuisova’s compatriot and La Rochelle star Levani Botia is another player who can shift between playing flanker and centre in what could become a growing trend in the game.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) February 23, 2021
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