By Simon Galinier
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Leader of the regular phase and unfortunate finalist of the Top 14 last season, the Castres Olympic returned to training on Monday July 25, without several executives such as Vilimoni Botitu or Adrea Cocagi who remained in Fiji or even Benjamin Urdapilleta, summoned with Argentina to compete in the Rugby Championship 2022.
The opportunity for the CO manager, Pierre-Henri Broncanto detail the calendar of the off-season in Castres, with in particular a stage in Saint-Lary (Hautes-Pyrénées), from August 8 to 12, followed by two preparation matches are also planned, against Montauban on August 19 (7:30 p.m.) for the Ibrahim-Diarra Trophy, then against the Irish of connachtAugust 24 (6:30 p.m.) as part of the 29e Vaquerin Challenge.
A last friendly meeting located 10 days before the first league match of the Castres, on September 3, on the lawn of Racing 92. “We will start the season away, since we had made a request to the LNR compared to the hybrid ground of the Pierre-Fabre stadium which is in the process of being delivered, ”said Broncan, before returning to the recruitment of the Tarnais.
“Robust players, capable of continuing in the Top 14 and in the European Cup”
As usual, Castres Olympique has been relatively discreet on the transfer market with 7 reinforcements, including 6 from Pro D2: Aurelien Azar (Carcassonne), Asier Usarraga (Bayonne), Gauthier Doubrere (Mont de Marsan), Adrien Seguret (Grenobles), Gauthier Maravat (Agen) and Dorian Clerc (return from Provence Rugby loan).
“These are young French players who have gone through national selections, especially in less than 20 years. For the most part, these are players who have been Junior World Champions and who have therefore already played with Florent Vanverberghe we Antoine Zeghdarwho play in Castres”, explained Pierre-Henry Broncan, referring to center Adrien Séguret and second line Gauthier Maravat, respectively titled with the Bleuets in 2018 and 2019.
These are boys who were important players in their respective clubs in Pro D2 and who played a lot and chained at this level. What we wanted is to recover robust players, capable of chaining between the Top 14 and the European Cup, since it is a marathon season. And then, there is the youth and the motivation of these players, who have, through Castres, a chance to evolve this season in the Top 14 and to show themselves at the highest French level.
“The versatility, experience and motivation of Leone Nakarawa seduced us”
Secondly, the Gers technician Pierre-Henry Broncan, who arrived in the Tarn in the summer of 2020 as a recruiter and forwards coach before becoming CO manager in March 2020 following the departure of Mauricio Reggiardo, returned to the surprising recruitment and last minute second or third line Fijian international Leon Nakarawa (62 selections to XV), named best European player of the 2017-2018 season:
“He was on the list of unemployed because he was not kept by Toulon where he played last season. At 34, he has a strong ambition which is to play the 2023 World Cup in France. His versatility, his experience at a very high level and his motivation seduced us”, thus justified Pierre-Henry Broncan, before continuing:
Today, he is a player who really has a goal to finish his career and he knows very well that it will go through a big season with Castres Olympique to be able to try to reach the 2023 World Cup.
It remains to be seen whether this Nakarawa bet has paid off in the Tarn, where we have the ambition to do well in the Champions Cup against Exeter and Edinburgh. “An English team which has a lot of internationals from the XV de la Rose and a Scottish opponent who represents half of the Scottish team”, commented Broncan who was also satisfied with the proximity of these meetings, because “ we could have gone further”, due to the integration of the South African provinces in the European Cup.
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