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Vakatawa retirement is over as Barbarians pick him to face Samoa

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images)

It’s official: The premature retirement of former France midfielder Virimi Vakatawa is over as he has been named to start in the Barbarians team that will play Samoa this Friday in a Rugby World Cup warm-up match in Brive.

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It was this time last year that the then 30-year-old French player announced that he had to retire from playing with immediate effect

The world of rugby was left in shock when it emerged that the 32-cap Test centre had been banned from playing by the Ligue Nationale de Rugby’s medical committee.

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Vakatawa went on to host a media conference at the Racing 92 training centre in Paris to explain that a cardiac issue was why he must suddenly quit playing.

However, 12 months later, RugbyPass exclusively reported on August 5 that Vakatawa was in line for a sensational return.

That retirement has now officially ended following his selection in the Pat Lam-coached Baa-Baas team for this weekend’s match in France where Vakatawa will partner former Wallabies midfielder Curtis Rona in an XV that also features standby Springboks RWC players, scrum-half Herschel Jantjies and hooker Joseph Dweba.

BARBARIANS (vs Samoa): 15. T Nanai-Williams; 14. T Fricker, 13. V Vakatawa, 12. C Rona, 11. H Speight, 10. A Frisch, 9. H Jantjies; 1. A Seuili, 2. J Dweba, 3. J Toomoga-Allen, 4. JL du Preez, 5. R Hugo, 6. D Richardson, 7. J Lam, 8. M Eadie. Reps: 16. A Venter, 17. R Evans, 18. S Longwell, 19. J Tekori, 20. Y Sakamoto, 21. M Green, 22. J Williams, 23. D Hoyland.

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