Wenceslas Lauret will play his first match against the New-Zealand All Blacks after hearing his name in the team line up announcement made by Philippe Saint André, head coach of the XV de France. Racing’s Back row, expresses all his happiness, excitement and pride to represent his country for the fourth time.
How would you have reacted, at the beginning of the week if we would have told you that you would be starting against the All Blacks? Surprised?
The same way I have just now, I suppose. I am very happy and proud to represent the colors of my beloved country, especially against the All Blacks. Yes, we can say that I am agreeably surprised because I went through a lot since my last cap. I am very happy to be once again part of the XV de France and to have the coaches’ trust. Now, it’s all up to me, to show what I am capable of on this rugby field.
Your previous calls could not be honored due to injuries; did those tough blows leave a bitter taste?
Those memories stayed for a long time in a corner of my mind, for sure. It’s never easy to cope with those sorts of situations, you question yourself a lot on whether your body can make it or not. It even influences your game, the way you play. But once you went through all that, you get tougher mentally. You have an extra motivation, especially, in the pre-season and early season; when you train, you always keep in mind to rejoin this national team.
Are you ok with it to say that you are more a defensive player?
Yes, but I like to say that my game is expanding widely more and more. I have improved a lot. In the past, I was mainly focused on tackling, defending and recovering balls. Today, my game evolved offensively, in air play during lineouts and kick-offs. I will again repeat myself but it’s all up to me and my performances on fields to make sure that people doesn’t affiliate me as a simple defending but as a ball player too.
Is it part of what your coaches ask you to do?
They primarily ask to play on my assets. We all know that against this sort of All Blacks team, we cannot make any mistakes. But then, if I have the possibility of playing ball, I won’t be afraid to. We must keep our plays simple. We mustn’t try and play ball unnecessarily. I know what I have to do, my number one missions will be to tackle and recover balls.
You will be associated to Thierry Dusautoir which presents a similar profil than yours...
It doesn’t make much difference in our playing habits; we don’t have to make big adjustments. But then, our association is a true tactical choice from our staff, specific to our opponents, this essentially to answer present in rucks. It’s now up to us to show our strength in this area of play, this is why Thierry and I will be alongside each other in Back row. Plus, it won’t be our first association; we played with each other during the 2010 tour. We are actually pretty complementary and find ourselves pretty quick on the pitch, in our movements and our positions.
We know that you give a lot physically in all your performances. In this area of play, what does All-Blacks represent for you, personally?
It’s simply the Top team on the international level. It’s the best team worldwide. It will be a big challenge for us. We know that they are very dangerous on the wing but also in the forward pack, capable of producing impressive of series of plays and score following a turnover. We will have to be steady on details and play on our assets.
We see you in great shape with Racing, you feel you are at your best physically since the beginning of your young career ?
I feel great, for sure. Racing is the main reason for it. I feel great in this club, among my team-mates. I’m in shape because I have play-time, because everything is fine with Racing. Plus, I played series of matches. Then, I cannot really say that at my best, I do not know how far I can be. We will see on Saturday against the All Blacks, the best team in the world if my good shape is ready for the international level. It will be a good test.
You never played against the All Blacks? Even in youth teams?
No never. It will be my first live Haka…
Did your colleagues already congratulate you?
Yes, many of them. Family and friends are all excited and proud to see me play this match. It’s a special emotion, personally but also to share with my close family and friends. They all would dream to take my spot. Every rugby fan would dream to play against this world class team and I’m very proud to do so. It’s an incredible sensation but we mustn’t stop there, we will have to fight for victory.
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Saturday 26th August