Josua Tuisova makes shock positional change for arch-experimenters Lyon
After successfully transforming Mathieu Bastareaud into a No8 in recent years, Lyon are hoping to have the same success with powerhouse Josua Tuisova, starting him in the pack against Stade Francais on Friday.
In the absence of Patrick Sobela, and alongside a spate of long-term injuries in the back row, the winger/ outside centre has been chosen by head coach Pierre Mignoni to wear the No8 jersey.
#SFPLOU La composition lyonnaise !
— LOU Rugby (@LeLOURugby) May 27, 2021
This may be a position that the 27-year-old may not be completely accustomed to, but he will not look out of place among the forwards. Lyon have listed him at 113kg on their team sheet on social media, only a solitary kg lighter than Loann Goujoun in the No7 shirt and 10kg heavier than Dylan Cretin on the other side of the scrum.
This is not the Fijian’s first dalliance with the back of the scrum either, as Toulouse will know full well. He briefly switched to No8 midway through a match against the Top 14 leaders in February, exploding from the base of the scrum to set up a try for Toby Arnold.
#TOP14 – J17
Ailier, centre, troisième ligne centre… il sait tout faire !
— TOP 14 Rugby (@top14rugby) February 23, 2021
Tuisova has forged a reputation over the years for being one of the most powerful players in Europe, and there is little doubt he will have the might to go toe-to-toe with the forwards. Whether he can adjust to the positional requirements of being in the pack is yet to be seen, but Bastareaud is living proof that this trial can work.
With two fixtures remaining in the regular Top 14 season, Lyon are still in the hunt for a playoff spot, as are Stade Francais. Lyon currently sit in ninth in the league, two points and two places behind the Parisian outfit. A win of the Stade Jean-Bouin would see them leapfrog Stade Francais and move within touching distance of the top six, so this is a high pressure time to make such a bold positional switch.
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