Is Vakatawa still the first choice in the center?

An immovable frame at the center of the tricolor attack during the first season of Fabien Galthié, the Racingman has since fallen back in the hierarchy. To the point of fearing for your participation in the 2023 World Cup?

Fabien Galthié’s first year in office, Virimi Vakatawa was the complement of the essential Gaël Fickou at the center of the tricolor attack. Injuries (knee, thigh, ribs) and deformities were then involved. First packages. Substitutes who impress and score points: Arthur Vincent, Jonathan Danty, Yoram Moefana. Then a half-way up in the sky and the white jersey of Racing 92. Have their place in the group of 33 players selected for the 2023 World Cup.

This season, the center of Fijian origin (29 years old; 30 tapas) has gone through a delicate period. To the point of never being selected for the five rounds of Grand Slam last spring, his last term dates back to March 26, 2021 and a defeat against Scotland (23-27) at the Stade de France.

Strong competition with Arthur Vincent, Yoram Moefana, Jonathan Danty

To help him regain his full potential, the staff of the XV of France periodically retained him for preparation courses, before, each time, finally sending him back to the club. Not selected. Before this tour of Japan and what seems like a last chance to find a place in the now abundant competition in his position between Vincent and Moefana, effective in defense, solid on impact and versatile (they can play on the side, like Vakatawa), and Danty, with a profile similar to his own: powerful, able to open gaps in defenses and play behind him.

We trust him, he is an important person in our system. It brings confidence through its experience, from everything that exudes to our young team.“The assistant coach of the blues in charge of the attack, Laurent Labit, said this Wednesday in a press conference in Tokyo. Noting that another assistant, Shawn Edwards, had appointed him captain of the defense in the absence of Gaël Fickou “from our first game with the British Barbarians“.”Virimi is important to the players around him, especially to Yoram who trusts him a lot. It gives you confidence and also helps you.»

But Laurent Labit, who knows Virimi Vakatawa from the inside – he coached him at Racing 92 from 2013 to 2019 – acknowledged and confirmed that the player had not yet returned to his 2020 level, making him one of the best power plants on the planet. “Of course, we hope you do it more and better“, Ended up giving up the coach evoking his performance during the first test against Japan.

“Gaël Fickou and Jonathan Danty are one step ahead of him. Yoram Moefana pushes. That ‘s the rule of the game. “

Laurent Labit

Three months ago, during the Six Nations Tournament, he had already talked about the difficulties his player encountered. “Virimi, I know him better than the others. I know his potential, everything he brings to the field when he’s fit and confident. We were eager to put him in the group to regain his trust and make him work with the hope that he would find his level. Let’s not forget that it was a safe bet for the team, something it is capable of doing. Then Gaël Fickou and Jonathan Danty go one step ahead of him. Yoram Moefana pushes. This is the rule of the game, we will put it back on track and we will see over the weeks what its level is …“He has one year left to convince the tricolor squad that he has regained all his qualities.

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