Clermont have hailed the impact of their Japan recruit Kotaro Matsushima, a star of the 2019 World Cup who broke his Top 14 scoring duck at the weekend by pouncing for two tries against Pau in a 50-29 win. 

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“I’m happy to see him score tries and have fun on the pitch,” said Clermont boss Franck Azema about the player they call ‘Mat’. 

Injured after 16 minutes in his league debut against Toulouse, Matsushima scored in the Champions Cup quarter-final defeat but he had to wait until last Saturday to finally get on the board in the French league in what was his third top-flight appearance. 

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Scott Spedding on the Le French Rugby podcast

“Kotaro is super talented,” continued Azema on RugbyRama. “In rugby it’s easy. In life outside it must be more difficult but it will be done little by little. But when it comes to rugby, you have to give him the ball because every time he touches him, he’s dangerous.

“He has speed, punch, he brings a certain execution in the gesture. He has speed that everyone sees it but he has a great knowledge of the fundamentals of the position of full-back or winger. He’s comfortable with the ball and that is what you expect from an ASM player.”

Matsushima had known what French life was like having spent some time years ago in the Toulouse espoirs, but he still needed a period of settling in at Clermont. “His integration is going well but he arrives in a culture which is different from the one he knew in Japan,” explained Camille Lopez. 

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“Wherever you come from, it’s rugby that brings us together. The ground is the same, the benchmarks are common to all. Kotaro is extremely talented. In rugby it’s easy. In life outside it must be more difficult but it will be done little by little. 

“He will integrate into French and Clermont life. It will take a little longer, but when it comes to rugby, he showed it against Pau, you have to give him the ball because every time he touches it, he is dangerous.”

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