Per Simon Galinier
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1. Ngani Laumape (French stadium)
He was THE flagship recruit of the Stade Français. The center three-quarters of the All Blacks Ngani Laumape (29; 15 shots) arrived in the capital with the nickname “demolition ball” and a solid reputation as a defensive shot, built in Super Rugby, but it took a long time to adapt to the Top 14 and scored only one attempt in the league against Biarritz in 20 matches (17 starters). For now, it must be said that he has not managed to forget the departures of French internationals Jonathan Danty and Gaël Fickou at La Rochelle and Racing 92. Although he seemed to find a rhythm more suited to his talent at the end of the season, we expect much better from his second season with the Pink Soldiers, as he is under contract until 2024 in Paris.
2. Thomas Lavanini (Clermont)
He landed in Auvergne with a sultry reputation as an ultra-undisciplined and impulsive player, the Puma Thomas Lavanini (29; 65 games) has spent more time (suspension and injury) away than on the pitch. Often expelled for acts of brutality in both the national team and the club, he often missed the Clermont package which, however, needed his services, due to a busy infirmary. When he was on the pitch (8 Top 14 games including 6 starters), the former Leicester, Jaguares and Racing 92 player was still very useful for ASM, but will have to manage to continue to become a Clermont.
3. Lima Sopoaga (Lyon)
After Laumape, here’s another one All black which has been beaten this season: half a fly from Lyon, Lima Sopoaga (31 years; 16 selections). However, the LOU offered him an extra month of vacation in New Zealand and allowed him to land in France only in late September. A deal that did not bear fruit as the former Wasps and Highlanders player did not shine on the turf of the Top 14 (only 6 starters in 12 games and no goals scored) and was the author of two balls that they are a stain for a player of his position: against the Stade Français, he exceeded the time limit to score a penalty; against Montpellier, was the author of a striker in his goal that led to the test of Cobus Reinach. In short, Sopoaga was far from meeting the expectations of Lyon, which bet heavily on him, looking for a big number 10 from a lease. Next year he will have to show something else to beat the excellent Léo Berdeu and become the holder of the LOU.
4. Ben Botica (Castres)
Arriving from Bordeaux-Bègles to bring competition to the indestructible Benjamin Urdapilleta as the first goal, New Zealander Ben Botica (32) never managed to seize his opportunity when he had the opportunity. We especially remember that he had lost, at home against UBB, during the 3rd day, being replaced at 50e minute, but also made a hole the following weekend, traveling to the Stade Français, where he had received a yellow card and missed several major kicks. His inefficiency against the posts and his defensive mistakes almost made us forget that the son of Frano Botica, a former All Blacks worker, had been named Top 14 player with Oyonnax. The former Harlequin and Montpellier player will have to show another face during his second season with the CO to show that he can replace Benjamin Urdapilleta, who will hang the crampons in the summer of 2023.
5. Tevita Kuridrani (Biarritz)
He was the head coach of Biarritz’s last contract, but Australian three-quarter international Tevita Kuridrani (31; 61 games) never confirmed all the expectations placed on him in the Basque Country. this one scored once. season in 20 games (18 starters) and was not the regulator of the three quarters of Biarrot. His association with New Zealand international Francis Saili was enough to make you salivate, but his performance on offense was not there. Finally, he skipped training and the last game of the season in Toulouse, evaporating from nature and without giving news to his club. Probably for an early holiday in Fiji, his home island. Still under contract with the BOPB until 2023, the former Western Force and Brumbies (Super Rugby) player should be heavily sanctioned by Biarritz leaders on his return from holiday.
And also :
Cheslin Kolbe (Touló), Brayden Williame (Perpignan), Baptiste Pesenti (Racing 92), Malik Hamadache (Montpellier), Tim Nanai-Williams (Toulouse), Jack Maddocks (Pau), JJ Hanrahan (Clermont) …
Turned on Rugby newsalso discover, this Monday, June 27, the 5 best revelations of the 2021-2022 season of the Top 14.
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